Court Proceedings (Financial Proceedings)

Frequently asked Questions about Court Proceedings

What are Financial Proceedings?

These are Court proceedings that deal specifically with issues over property and finances. Financial Proceedings may run alongside divorce proceedings.

What types of Orders can be applied for in Financial Proceedings?

The types of Orders that can be applied for under Financial proceedings are:

Maintenance Pending Suit or outcome of proceedings

This is an application for maintenance to be paid whilst divorce proceedings are on going. This is sometimes referred to as Interim Maintenance. See further questions on maintenance for further details.

A Secured Provision Order

These are maintenance payments that are guaranteed. The Court is obliged to specify which assets on which security is to be given. This is in effect a charge on those assets in similar terms to a charge registered on a property.

A Property Adjustment Order

This is an Order where one party is ordered to transfer to another their interest in property.

A Periodical Payments Order

This is an Order for maintenance to be paid after the final Decree Absolute. The Court can limit the duration of the maintenance or in some cases it will terminate on death or remarriage. For more information on maintenance see our questions.

A Lump Sum Order

This is an Order for a payment of a capital payment in a lump sum, which is one payment only, which can be made in instalments or paid as one amount. This Order cannot be varied.

A Pension Sharing Order/Pension Attachment Order

This is where the Court Orders the pension provider to transfer some of one party’s pensions rights to the other. For more information on Pension Sharing Orders see our questions.

Clean Break Consent Order

This is an Order, which sets out agreements in relation to the Finances. This Order dismisses all financial claims from either party.

In some cases there can also be an application to vary previous orders made in respect of finances if there has been a change in circumstances.

How long do Financial Proceedings usually take?

It is not possible to give an exact answer because the length of time can depend on so many factors including:

  • The time taken for the other party to provide financial disclosure;
  • The amount of issues that are disputed
  • The amount of assets and finances to be divided

We always give an estimate, based on the information we have at the time, of the likely length of time that the case will take when we are instructed.

Do I have to apply for a Divorce to issue Financial Proceedings?

You will have to apply for a divorce except in the following circumstances:

  • If you are the person that has been issued with divorce proceedings.
  • If you are making an application for Judicial Separation. Which is a legal separation.
  • If you are applying for an annulment.
  • If the application is an emergency application. For instance, you need to make an application to avoid the other person disposing of assets, you may be able to file the Divorce Petition later.
  • If you are applying for a divorce in another country you may be able to deal with the finances here.

What factors to the Court consider when deciding on a settlement?

Under The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the Court would take account of the following factors:

  • The welfare of any child of the family who has not reached the age of 18
  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the future
  • The financial needs, obligations, responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the length of the marriage
  • Any physical or mental disability of each of the parties to the marriage
  • The contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including any contribution made by looking after the home or caring for the family
  • The conduct of each of the parties if that conduct us such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be unfair to disregard it
  • The value to either of the parties to the marriage of any benefits (for example a pension) which because of the divorce that party may lose a chance of acquiring.

Will I need to go to Court?

If Ancillary Relief proceedings are issued then you will need to go to court, unless the matter is settled. 

What is the Financial procedure?

Upon making an application for Financial Proceedure, the Court will set a timetable as to when certain documents should be filed at the Court in order to ensure that the case is progressing towards an early settlement.

Whilst this is on-going, it is always our intention to try and resolve matters as quickly and early as possible, whilst at the same time full disclosure of financial matters is necessary for us to advise you and for the Court to make a decision. The process is as follows:

First Stage – Disclosure

The parties will be required to complete a Financial Statement (“Form E”) in which they will disclose all of their assets, income and other financial information. The parties are under an on-going duty of full and frank financial disclosure and will be required to swear on oath that the contents of the Form E are true to the best of their knowledge.

We then exchange Form E’s with the other party or their solicitor and at that point we require further information if this is required or missing from their Form E.

Second Stage – First Court Attendance known as First Directions Appointment (FDA)

The first Court attendance following the issuing of an Application for Ancillary Relief is the first appointment when a District Judge will consider issues between the parties and will direct how the case is to proceed in the most cost effective way.

The intention is to propose an early-negotiated settlement. It is often necessary at this stage to request further financial details, for example, if the other party has not supplied all the required information.

Third Stage – Second Court Attendance – Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR)

 If the matter has still not settled or been agreed then the FDR is a hearing where both parties are encouraged to try and negotiate and discuss a potential settlement. The District Judge will play an active role in this hearing by listening to the arguments of each party and will usually express a view what he/she considers to be a fair settlement. If at this point a settlement is not reached, the matter will be listed for a final hearing.

Fourth Stage – Final Hearing

The majority of cases do settle before a final hearing and very few cases get this far. In any event, if they do not settle then a District Judge will make a Court Order based upon all the evidence and submissions put by each party and their legal advice. That decision will be binding.

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