The Court Process for Financial Orders in Divorce
16 June 2016
Our Divorce Lawyers are always keen to help people getting a divorce to agree how the matrimonial finances are to be divided between them. But in some circumstances divorcing couples simply cannot agree and an impasse is reached with both parties unable to negotiate any further. In this situation we recommend that an application is made to the Court to ask for the Courts assistance.
Generally people shy away from making an application to the Court thinking that the process will be complicated, expensive or that “going to Court” will just make matters worse. In some cases this is what happens, however the Court process will actually bring about a resolve that both parties are able to live with and minimise the costs of getting a divorce.
How the Court Process Works
Upon making the application, the Court will issue a hearing date and some directions as to what the parties need to do before they attend the hearing in Court. Generally a form, called a Form E, will be completed and sent to the Court and to the other side.
The Form E is a 26 page form that asks the parties to list all of their finances, debts, assets, liabilities, income, investments, savings, items valued over £500, and then at the end it asks what type of Divorce Financial Order you are looking for the Court to make.
The Judge is unable to make an Order at the first hearing unless the parties are in agreement. What the Judge will do is to see if the parties have all the information that they need in order to consider reaching an agreement.
Sometimes parties cannot agree the value of property so the Judge will order a valuation to be completed by an independent valuer. Other times the parties don’t agree how the pensions are to be divided and if this is the case then the Court may order an Actuary to help determine how the pensions are to be divided between the parties. These instructions given by the Judge are called Directions.
The parties will leave the first hearing and work through the Directions returning to Court for a second time about 12 weeks later.
At the second Court hearing it is hoped that the parties will have obtained the information required at the first hearing and have reached a settlement or be in a position to agree a settlement.
If the parties have not reached an agreement then the Court is still unable to make a Financial Order, but will make further Directions so that the matter can be listed for a third Court hearing which will be a final hearing.
The Judge will direct that both parties file position statements outlining their position and what portion of the assets they feel they should receive. The Judge will also direct that both parties file up-to-date disclosure in respect of their bank statements, pay slips, credit card statements and anything else that is referred to in their Form E document.
At the third Court hearing if the parties do not agree then the Judge is able to make a Final Order and impose this on the parties without their agreement. This is considered a Final Order and will remain in force until a further Order of the Court.
At any time during this process the couple getting divorced can enter into an agreement and forward this to the Judge for approval. They do not have to wait for the hearing dates to tell the Judge that agreement has been reached.