What Court Orders are Available for Divorce?

14 September 2016

Once divorce proceedings have started in England or Wales there are various Court Orders available to assist with resolving divorce money matters or living arrangement issues.

Below you’ll find brief explanations of a few of these Court Orders and scenario’s to help you better decide if they are suitable for you. The Court Orders explained here are:

  • Divorce Financial Orders - Clean Break Orders / Consent Orders
  • Maintenance Pending Suit
  • Legal Services Order
  • Legal Charge
  • Occupation Order

Divorce Financial Orders

In order to sever the financial commitment that exists between a married or divorced couple, a Financial Order must be signed by both parties and sealed by the Court. It will then be a legally binding document that can be relied upon in the future. A Divorce Financial Order can include money, property, savings, investments and pensions. It can also include maintenance payments and child maintenance payments.

When a Divorce Financial Order, such as a Clean Break Order or Consent Order is granted by the Court, neither person can make a financial claim against the other person in the future.

For more information see Clean Break Orders and Consent Orders explained.

Pending Suit

This Court Order provides an interim solution intended to meet the financially weaker person’s short term needs, before a Court has had a chance to examine in detail the question of everyone’s long term income or capital needs.

Scenario: Where a husband and wife separate and the wife’s needs are not being met by her income alone, she is able to make an application to the Court that a temporary measure be put in place whereby the husband pays her a monthly amount to meet her shortfall, until the Court has had time to examine both parties income and capital needs in more detail.

Legal Services Order

A Legal Services Order provides that one spouse pay the legal costs of the other spouse, where the receiving spouse can show that it does not have the necessary income in order to fund their legal representation.

Scenario: Husband and wife decide to divorce. Both of them wish to instruct a Solicitor to represent them to help reach a financial settlement as both parties are not in agreement. The wife works part time and is unable to afford the cost of a Solicitor. She can make an application to the Court that the husband pay her legal costs as he has more disposable income than she does, he also has access to some personal savings that are in his name. The Court can make an Order that the husband pays either in instalments or a lump sum.  

Legal Charge

 A Legal Charge is the means by which lenders enforce their rights to a property. It is registered at the Land Registry. This remedy is very useful where one party wishes to remain in the former matrimonial home which has a mortgage in joint names but is unable to buy out their spouse.   

Scenario: Husband and wife have two small children aged 6 and 9. The wife does not work as she takes care of the children. She wishes to remain living in the former matrimonial home with the children but is unable to have her husbands name taken off the joint mortgage.

They agree that the husband should have 40% of the equity in the home. The husband agrees that he will take a legal charge over the property for 40% of the equity which will become payable when the youngest child reaches the age of 18. In turn he will sign over all of his legal and beneficial interest in the property to his wife. This enables the wife to continue to live at the property with the children and further allows her 12 years to adjust her financial circumstances so that she is able to pay her husband 40% of the value of the property when it becomes payable. 

Occupation Order

An Occupation Order identifies who has the right to stay, return or be excluded from a family home.  It does not change the financial shares in a home and is usually a short-term measure.

Where a wife or husband wishes to remain in the family home following the breakdown of a relationship, and the other party is not in agreement then an application can be made to the Court for an Occupation Order which will allow one of the parties to remain and one of the parties to vacate the family home.

The Court will consider the income needs of both of the parties, the housing needs of both of the parties to ensure that nobody is left homeless, the behaviour of the parties and whether the Order would affect the health of the parties or any children involved.

A Court fee is payable directly to the Court in most cases.

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