After you get divorced it's important to take care of any money matters between you and your ex. If the two of you don't agree on how this should be done, it may be necessary to make a financial application with the Court. Co-op's Head of Family Law, Tracey Moloney, explains how to start a financial application following a divorce.
By Head of Family Law, Tracey Moloney
When you are granted a divorce, you may think that everything has been taken care of and that's the matter now closed. But this isn't the case. If you and your ex fail to take care of your financial matters then you will remain financially tied to one another indefinitely.
So, what are your options? Well, if you and your ex both agree on how your finances should be divided then you can put a Consent Order in place. Alternatively, if you've got no marital assets but you just want to end your financial ties to one another, you can put a Clean Break Order in place. You may find, however, that your ex doesn't agree on how the finances should be divided, or (if there's nothing to divide) they don't agree to a Clean Break Order being made. If that is the case then you will need to apply to the Court for help, by making a financial application.
To make things simpler for you, here is my step-by-step guide to making a financial application.
Step 1 – Contact a Mediator
Initially you will need to contact a mediator who will attempt to resolve the situation through mediation. If this isn't successful, the mediator will need to sign an FM1 form that states that the mediation was not suitable or did not remedy the issues. This form then needs to be attached to your main application form, to demonstrate to the Court that mediation has been attempted.
Contact your local mediator, advise them that you may need to issue a financial application to the Court, and ask them if they are able to sign an FM1 form for this purpose.
Step 2 – Download the Main Application Form
Once you have the FM1 form you will then need to download a Form A, which is the main Financial Application form.
Form A will ask you what you are applying to the Court for (i.e. the type of financial remedy you are looking for). This might be maintenance from your spouse, a share of their pension, a share of the home that you live in, an order that the house is sold or an order that your spouse disclose their assets, for example.
Step 3 – Submit the Application and Court Fee
Send the original application form (along with 2 copies) to the Court, along with a Court fee of £255. This is a one off payment – there are no further Court fees involved in the financial application process.
Step 4 – Apply for Fee Remission (if applicable)
If you are in receipt of benefits or are on a low income then you may qualify for fee remission. The relevant form for this is Form EX160. You can also download EX160a which provides guidance on the process and the qualifying criteria, to see if you are eligible.
Step 5 – Issuing the Financial Application Forms
When the Court receive your forms they will issue these, meaning that they will open the case and allocate a Court number. They will keep one of the copies of the forms for their files, and return two issued forms to you.
You need to keep one of the forms and post the other form to your ex-spouse. You must ensure that you serve the other person with an issued copy of the form so that they are aware of the application. This is called 'service.'
Step 6 – Directions from the Court
Along with the issued forms, the Court will also send you a hearing date and a list of things they want you to do – these are called directions.
Step 7 – Disclosing Finances
The first thing you will need to do in response to the Court directions is to complete a Form E. This is the financial statement, in which you will be asked to provide comprehensive details of your finances. When this is filled in you will send one copy to the Court and one copy to the other side. You will also keep a copy for yourself and bring this to Court with you.
The other side will also be asked to fill in a Form E and they too will have to send a copy to the Court and a copy to you. You will both attach disclosure to your Form E's that you exchange with each other but there is no need to send disclosure to the Court.
Disclosure is anything that you have mentioned in your Form E:
- Bank statements
- Credit card statements
- Pay slips
- Pension information, etc.
The date by which you need to do this will be in the pack that you receive from the Court.
Step 8 – Preliminary Documents
Next, the Court will ask you to file some preliminary documents. These are:
- Chronology, which is a list of all the important dates leading up to the hearing date:
- Date you were born
- Date your spouse was born
- Date any children were born
- Date of your marriage
- Date of separation
- Date of decree nisi
- Date of decree absolute
- Date of first hearing
- Schedule of issues, which details the main points that are not agreed between you:
- Should the house be sold?
- Should there be a pension share order?
- Should spousal maintenance be paid?
- Are there matrimonial debts?
- If there are should they be divided equally between the parties?
- Is the case suitable to depart from equality i.e should the assets be divided 50:50 or should there be more payable to one party?
- Form G, which will have come in your pack from the Court and asks if you are in a position to proceed with the hearing date. You will complete this by ticking 'yes' to confirm that you are ready to proceed.
- Questionnaire, which you will prepare when you receive the other side's Form E. You will go through their Form E and the disclosure that they have attached and make a list of questions that you have (if you have any). These will be questions relevant to their finances and (if answered) will help you reach an agreement with them.
Step 9 – Attending the First Hearing
Once all of the above steps have been completed, you will then attend Court for the first hearing. What happens from here will differ dependent upon the case. If you have instructed a Family Law Solicitor, then they will attend the hearing with you and provide advice, guidance and representation throughout the proceedings.