Can my ex-husband/wife make a claim on my property or finances after a Decree Absolute has been pronounced?
If you haven’t got what’s known as a Clean Break Consent Order or an Order from the Court then technically they can. This is a document that sets out arrangements made in relation to finances and dismisses any further claims.
The benefit of this is that even if you do not have any finances or assets at the moment, if you were to come into a sum, through for instance inheritance or a lottery win then your partner would be unable to make a claim against you.
How much is a dispute over property and finances going to cost me?
It is very difficult to give an exact figure. The following factors can influence costs:
- The decree of co-operation over financial disclosure. If either party fails to properly disclose their assets, this can lead to increased expenditure on costs.
- Whether or not the value of assets is agreed. If not, there can be arguments and additional work over valuing these assets.
- The speed at which settlement is reached. The earlier the settlement, the lower the costs.
- The amount and value of assets in dispute.
We always give an estimation of the likely amount of costs at the outset of the case based on the facts we are given.
What does Ancillary Relief mean?
Ancillary Relief proceedings are court proceedings issued specifically in relation to property and financial matters where there is a divorce, Judicial Separation or annulment.
How are property and financial disputes usually dealt with?
A dispute can be dealt with in the following ways:
By settlement between the parties either by themselves or through solicitors
Clearly this is a desirable approach. The benefit of seeking advice from a Solicitor is that they can provide advice in relation to what sort of settlement would be considered a fair one by the Courts in view of case law and legislation.
The first stage would be for the Legal Advisor to obtain all relevant information as to the parties and their children. Details of the income, potential income and any actual and potential benefits should be obtained. Details of all assets with values should be obtained from both parties.
At that stage consideration should be given to settlement. If that fails or if financial disclosure has not been adequate an application may need to be made to the Court.
By trying to settle the matter by a process known as collaborative law.
This means that Solicitors try to work together to reach an agreement by developing a common approach to issues such as valuations. The benefit of Collaborative Law is that there may be costs savings.
However, clearly this approach is not suitable for everyone, particularly when there is a high degree of dispute between the parties. Collaborative Law is not available for cases, which are publicly funded.
This approach is where both couples attend a trained mediation practitioner and try and reach an agreement together. A mediator is unable to provide legal advice as to the fairness of any settlement. This approach can be beneficial in terms of costs but again, may not be suitable for everyone if there are disagreements or if one party is more dominant than the other.
By Court Proceedings
If all other attempts at reaching a settlement fail then the last resort is Court proceedings. Even if proceedings are issued however, a mutual agreement can still be reached right up until the final hearing. It is always best to try and agree a settlement that both parties can be relatively happy with than let the Court decide a settlement that neither party may agree with.
If I receive Legal Aid for a property/financial matter, will I have to pay it back?
If you receive Legal Aid for your case involving property and finances, you may have to pay some or all of the costs back.
There are two ways that this can occur:
If you recover or keep property or assets as a result of your case then you may have to pay back some or all of the Legal Aid costs you have received.
We are paid a fixed fee by the Legal Services Commission for the work we do. Each type of work is charged at different rates. If work on your case exceeds the fixed fee by three times then you may be charged the Solicitors charge by the Legal Services Commission.
Upon the completion of your case we assess the costs on the file and the information is sent to the Legal Services Commission. They then decide whether the Statutory or Solicitors Charge applies in your case.
In a small number of cases it can be possible to waive the charge due to hardship but this is incredibly rare.
If I receive Legal Aid for a property/financial matter, will I have to make a contribution?
In some cases, if you are awarded a full Public Funding Certificate you may have to make a monthly financial contribution towards your Legal Aid costs. This is decided by the Legal Services Commission upon receipt of your application.
If you do have to make a contribution it is important that you keep up with the payments as if you fail to do so you could be responsible for all the costs on your file, including those incurred before the Certificate was issued.
I made a Will before my divorce is that still going to be valid?
It could be and therefore if you do not want your ex-husband/wife to be a beneficiary of your Will in the event of your death you should make a new Will.