This can be the most complicated and daunting part of the divorce. These are fundamental questions – where will I live, what is my income, how do we deal with the business/pension/trusts. Even after a short marriage the courts have wide powers to adjust your finances, and it is vital to deal with this carefully. We can help you answer:
• Can I stay in the family home?
• Will the house have to be sold?
• What will my income be?
• Am I entitled to a share of my spouse’s pension?
• Whether a family trust is protected from claims.
• How can a value be placed on the family business? Would the court think about forcing a sale of the business?
• What about our holiday home (or other assets overseas)?
• Do I have to pay maintenance? Can we have a “clean break” settlement?
• Is there a presumption of a 50/50 split?
• I work overseas – should I divorce in England or where I work?
• Can we delay dealing with things until the economy improves?
• We’ve reached an agreement between ourselves – is this enforceable?
• Can I ring fence the money I inherited?
• My partner might be made bankrupt – how will this affect the settlement?
We focus on helping you to achieve a sensible, workable settlement. We recognise the different needs of our clients – some may be financially astute whilst others may be vulnerable if their partner dealt with the family finances during the marriage. We can guide you towards the best possible route for resolving matters.
In particular all bbl’s family lawyers have experience of dealing with owner managed businesses, and high net worth/income families.
Our family lawyers won’t push you towards a particular settlement – we will give you clear advice and that will include suggestions about how you can resolve matters in an efficient, cost effective and respectful and dignified way. You remain in control.
There are many different ways these disputes can be resolved. These include:
• Sitting down with your spouse and reaching your own agreement, perhaps having taken advice from us “in the background”.
• Collaborative law.
• Through your lawyers.
• An application to court. We have experience of local courts as well as High Court and Court of Appeal cases.
For some people the structure offered by the court process, and the mechanism to obtain full and accurate financial information, means issuing a court application is essential.
Finding the right option, or options, for you can lead to a huge saving in costs, time and stress. Most importantly it can benefit the family going forward which is important if you have children. Our policy is to ensure that when we meet with clients we outline all the possible options available to achieve your aims.
When advising, we will outline the likely approach taken by the courts. The factors the court takes into account are listed in section 25 of the Matrimonial Cause Act 1973. Because the Act is over 40 years old, the courts interpretation of the provisions have changed over the years. This has allowed the law to keep up with changes in society. For this reason, case law can be as important as the Act itself, which means the law constantly evolves. The individual members of our firm are actively involved in the family law community which helps us keep apace with developments in the law.
The factors listed at section 25 are:
• The welfare of any children of the family.
• The income, earning capacity, property and resources of each person now and in the future.
• Financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of each person now and in the future.
• Standard of living enjoyed by the family.
• Age of each person and the duration of the marriage.
• Contribution made by each person to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home and bringing up children.
• In exceptional cases, the conduct of each person.
• Physical or mental disability of the parties or children.
• Any benefit lost because of the divorce or dissolution (such as loss of pension benefits).
There are various other court applications which can be made. These includes claims for interim maintenance, to prevent the sale of a house or the disposition of assets, and to force disclosure of financial information.