For most people going through divorce the biggest issue is the financial settlement. Sorting out finances on divorce can be a complex and difficult matter, so it’s important to know what the court can and cannot do.
The orders that the court can make are called ‘financial remedy orders’. The term can refer to a specific type of order (see below), or the final order, setting out the full financial settlement, which will usually include several of the specific orders mentioned below.
Note the reference to a ‘final order’. That order is meant to bring matters to a conclusion. It is not therefore usually possible to seek a further financial order once a final order has been made.
It should also be noted that a final order should normally be obtained in all cases, even where matters are agreed (in which case it is called a ‘consent order’), or where neither party is making a financial claim against the other. The reason for this is to ensure that any agreement is enforceable, and that neither party can make any further financial claims in the future.
The court can essentially only make those orders allowed by statute. These include:
Maintenance orders – These are orders requiring one party to make regular (usually monthly) payments to the other. The order will either last indefinitely (until the death of either party, the remarriage of the recipient, or further court order), or for a limited, specified, time. The court can also make a temporary maintenance order, to last until a final order is made – this is usually called ‘maintenance pending suit’.
Lump sum orders – An order requiring one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other party. The order will state by when the money should be paid, and this can include payment by instalments.
Property adjustment orders – These are orders adjusting the ownership of property, for example transferring the ownership of property from one party to the other, or adjusting ownership of jointly owned property from 50:50 to, say, 75:25.
Pension orders – These are most commonly ‘pension sharing orders’, which transfer all or part of one party’s pension fund into a pension fund owned by the other party. Note that this does not mean that the other party will receive the money transferred – it goes straight into their pension, and when they can receive any benefit depends upon the terms of their pension.
These are some of the most common types of financial remedy orders. Sometimes, however, an issue needs to be included in a settlement that cannot be ordered by the court. An example of this might be one party paying for medical insurance for the other party. In such a situation the court can accept an undertaking from the paying party, and the undertaking can be enforced in a similar way to an order.
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Obviously, this is just a very brief introduction to a potentially very complex subject. Even if you have agreed matters with your spouse then an order will need to be drafted, and this is really a job for a lawyer.
Accordingly, if you wish to obtain a financial remedy order then we would strongly recommend that you first obtain the advice of an expert family lawyer. We find you an expert that works with you on our digital platform. For more information, call us on 020 3904 0506, or click here, and fill in the form.
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