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Finances- Common questions asked by clients

View profile for Jennifer Brook
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Question

Can i get divorced without sorting out the money?

Answer

It is possible to get a divorce (or civil partnership dissolution) without dealing with any financial issues arising from the separation. For example, the court could end your marriage even if you continue to own a house together with your spouse, or you have joint bank accounts or joint debts. However, we recommend that you should deal with all such matters as part of the divorce process if possible. It can be much more distressing and expensive to sort out financial issues at a later stage, perhaps when new partners have come onto the scene. The court has wide powers to make financial orders on divorce, which can give you certainty and finality for the future.  

Question

I know that my spouse will try to hide his/her income and assets if I make a financial claim against him/her. Is there anything I can do about it?

Answer

It is not uncommon for a person involved in divorce (or civil partnership dissolution) proceedings to try to hide his/her income or assets to defeat a spouse’s claim for financial orders, such as the sale of a family home, payment of a lump sum, or regular maintenance payments. The court is familiar with such situations and if you do make a claim for financial orders your spouse will be required to disclose details of his/her finances - This process is known as “financial disclosure”. If you still believe that important information is being withheld you would be entitled to raise further specific questions and demand supporting documentation. Consequently it should be very difficult for your spouse to deceive the court, provided that you have good legal representation.

Question

I want a divorce but I don't want my spouse to make any financial claim against me. What can I do?

Answer

The short answer is that if you issue a divorce petition (or civil partnership dissolution petition) you cannot stop your spouse from making a claim against you for financial orders, such as maintenance payments, a lump sum payment, or the sale or transfer of a family home. It is possible that your spouse’s potential claims may in fact be worthless, for example if your case involves a very short marriage with no children and equal finances. If your spouse does have a valid claim then this needs to be dealt with properly, but it is important to ensure if possible that your spouse has no further comeback against you in the future. This can be achieved by asking the court to grant a “financial clean break order” as part of any overall settlement, to give you certainty for the future.

Question

I am thinking of getting divorced but my spouse says that he/she will make a claim against my pension, which is quite valuable. Can he/she do so?

Answer

Yes -  the court could make a “Pension Sharing Order”, whereby a specific percentage amount would be removed from your pension funds and used to create a new separate pension fund for your spouse. The court only has the power to do this on divorce (or civil dissolution) and the question of whether or not it would make such an order depends upon the particular circumstances of your case. If you want to keep your pension intact, it might be possible to do so by offering other assets to your spouse instead of Pension Sharing, such as a lump sum payment. This is known as “offsetting” and requires expert advice. It might be advisable to obtain a report from a pensions expert with regard to pension sharing and offsetting if your pension and/or your spouse’s pension is valuable.

Question

My spouse owns property abroad. Would this be taken into account if I divorce him/her?

Answer

Yes - if you issue divorce (or civil partnership) proceedings and make a claim for financial orders then all property owned by you or your spouse would be relevant, whether it is situated in this country or abroad. However this can cause practical difficulties, for example if your spouse denies owning such property or there is a dispute as to its value. Furthermore, the court is usually reluctant to make orders for sale etc in relation to property abroad because of the difficulty in enforcing such orders and so it may be sensible to concentrate your claim against assets within the jurisdiction if possible.

Question

When i got married i already owned a house with no mortgage, which I brought into the marriage. Can my spouse make a claim against this property?

Answer

If your spouse makes a claim against you for financial orders in divorce (or civil dissolution) proceedings then the court could make an order in respect of any property owned by either of you, including property brought into the marriage or acquired after separation. Such property is never ring fenced. However, it may be possible to argue that these assets are “non matrimonial” rather than matrimonial and that consequently you should be allowed to retain them. These issues are technical and require specialist family law advice.  

Question

I am getting divorced and want to make a claim against the family home, but it is owned by my spouse and his/her family. What can I do?

Answer

In divorce (or civil dissolution) proceedings you could make a claim against any property owned by your spouse including a family home, even if other people such as his/her family members also own part of the property. However, you could only claim against the share owned by your spouse and the court may be reluctant to order the property to be sold. There may also be difficulty in identifying your spouse’s true interest in the property and it might be necessary to add the other owners to the divorce proceedings to enable them to give evidence and be cross-examined. This situation can be complicated and you should seek expert family law advice.

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