Separation is often a difficult, emotional time, even without the involvement of the courts. We work with our clients to ensure, in the majority of cases, a court hearing is not required. By working together with you, and understanding your individual circumstances, we achieve amicable settlements whenever possible.
We are one of the top law firms across our regions, offering our clients the highest levels of legal expertise alongside a superb customer service experience. Our warm and friendly approach sets us apart from our competitors, combining local knowledge with national capability. We have been recognised in The Legal 500 directory as having “an excellent reputation for advising a range of clients, from those with modest means to more high-net-worth Individuals” and as being “a match for any of the Birmingham city firms”. Sue Hodgson, who heads our Family Law team, is described as “quite simply outstanding”.
Our reputation is built on a commitment to providing a bespoke, individualised service to all our clients. Family law matters are complex and sensitive; we will work hard to understand your circumstances and ensure you have the smoothest experience possible.
A financial order is a court order setting out the financial settlement on separation. In most cases, separating partners come to an amicable agreement in relation to their financial settlement outside court, and then make an application to the court for a consent order, which turns the agreement into a legally binding commitment.
If it isn’t possible to come to an agreement with your former partner, we can support you through a range of options such as the alternative dispute resolution approach. We are noted for our commitment to collaborative law, and our team are experts in making these negotiations as stress-free as possible.
As a final resort, if it is not possible to reach an agreement with your partner, a request can be made to the court to determine the financial settlement between you and your partner on separation.
There are various types of financial orders which the court can make in specific circumstances, such as a pension sharing order, a freezing order, a property adjustment order and a maintenance order. Our expert divorce solicitors will discuss any relevant financial orders with you based on your individual circumstances.
We will draft your consent order based on the agreement we help you to negotiate with your former partner. A consent order includes three main sections:
If the terms of the consent order are straightforward, the court will normally process the application within four to six weeks, depending on the court and its workload. If the agreement is recognised as fair and reasonable, it can be approved without the court needing to speak to either party.
At this stage, if the judge believes the agreement is unfair, or that there are issues which need to be addressed, further information might be requested. If the court still cannot approve the agreement, a hearing may be required.
We have a huge amount of experience drafting consent orders and will negotiate the terms on your behalf. The court will be interested in the length of your relationship, the assets in question, the health and earning capacity of each partner and the needs of any children involved. The reasonable expectations of each party as to their ongoing standard of living will also be considered.
We understand the expectations of the court in relation to the fairness of financial settlements and will advise you accordingly. Our goal is to achieve the best settlement for you with the minimum stress; where possible, we will look to avoid a court hearing and facilitate an amicable agreement.
A “clean break” means that neither partner can make any further claims against each other in future. A consent order means a financial order with settlement terms that have been agreed, rather than imposed by a judge following court proceedings. A clean break order can form part of a consent order, but it is not the same thing. It is important to understand the difference: a consent order will not necessarily end the financial relationship you have with your partner and will not ensure that further claims cannot be made, unless it includes a clean break order. Without a clean break order, it is possible for your former partner to apply for the terms of your consent order to be altered.
Well known cases such as that of Dale Vince, whose former partner successfully claimed against him following a great increase in wealth 20 years after their divorce, highlight the value of a clean break order.
A clean break is most appropriate where the separating partners have no assets to split and have no need for an on-going financial relationship. Often though, the situation is more complicated than that. A clean break is not possible if maintenance is to be paid from one partner to the other to help balance out incomes or to support any children of the relationship.
A clean break is also not appropriate when the financial circumstances of one or both partners is uncertain. If there are plans to develop or sell off a family business or significant asset, or to develop a property, it might be necessary to leave the settlement open; if your employment situation is uncertain, it might also be in your interests to avoid a clean break order.
It is possible to agree a deferred clean break to come into effect at a specified (or unspecified) time in the future. A binding order can be made for a clean break to occur once certain conditions have been satisfied (the sale of a business or property, for example), or an agreement could be reached at some unknown future point when you and your former partner are ready to end your on-going financial relationship.
Financial orders are intended to be binding and final, so there needs to be special circumstances for a judge to allow changes to be made. The impact of the appeal is also relevant – the court will consider the proportionality of the appeal and whether it will make a material difference to your circumstances compared to the costs of the appeal.
Examples of circumstances in which an order could be challenged are:
A financial order is a legally binding document, so if one party to the agreement fails to abide by the terms of the order, the other party can take action to enforce it. If it is found that a breach has occurred, the court will require the party responsible to satisfy the terms of the order, as well as paying the costs of the proceedings.
When considering whether a breach has occurred, the court will take all the circumstances into account. For example, sometimes a party can fail to satisfy their obligations under the order due to unforeseen circumstances which were beyond their control, such as unexpectedly losing their job. In such situations, the court may make an order allowing that party to stop payments until they find a new job.
If there is no valid reason for the failure to comply with the terms of the order, the court can impose penalties and enforce payment of outstanding monies.
The court will usually add the costs of enforcement proceedings to the money you are owed, so that your former partner will reimburse you for those costs.
Our divorce lawyers are approachable and professional, and will always adopt a balanced and practical approach to negotiations, minimising conflict and working to an acceptable outcome for you. Our aim is to achieve amicable resolutions swiftly, but if litigation is necessary we have the experience and know-how to deal with the courts effectively.
Please give us a call for a friendly, confidential, chat about how we can help support you when you or your family need legal advice and representation. Please contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form on the righthand side of this page.
By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for family law legal advice, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on hand no matter what the situation. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes. Our Family Law Solicitors team has great experience in all areas of family law and family mediation.
We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry and Telford, so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England and Wales.