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Divorce FAQ – Part 3
Can I settle any financial claims once and for all when we divorce?
In many cases, yes. For example, a spouse who would have paid maintenance to the other can instead agree to transfer an appropriate lump sum and/or other assets. Of course, this may not be possible if sufficient assets are not available.
Once a ‘clean break’ agreement of this kind has been ratified by court order, neither of you will be able to go back to court in the future to ask for maintenance or further transfer of assets. This gives both partners a much greater degree of certainty and allows them to completely disentangle their individual financial affairs.
However, it is not possible to agree a ‘clean break’ in respect of your obligation to provide maintenance for your children.
Can we negotiate a settlement without using lawyers or going to court?
You may be able to negotiate agreement among yourselves, without lawyers. However, if there are significant assets involved, it is worth taking legal advice to make sure that your interests are being protected.
Your lawyer can advise on whether your proposed agreement is fair. Your lawyer can also advise you on the best way of structuring an agreement, for example, trading off property, assets, pension rights, maintenance and so on.
Ideally, this will allow you to reach broad agreement, leaving the lawyers to tidy up the details and paperwork. Even if you cannot reach agreement immediately, you will at least know what the problem areas are.
Where possible, it is best if you and your spouse can agree a settlement between yourselves, taking into account your individual preferences. If the court is asked to impose a settlement, it may come up with a solution that suits neither of you.
In any case, once you have reached agreement you should ask the court for a consent order.
Any settlement, if it is to be binding, will require both partners to give full disclosure of their respective circumstances.
How long will it take to sort everything out?
Obtaining a divorce typically takes about 6 to 9 months. This includes a six-week delay from the date of the decree nisi (i.e. when the court agrees that the grounds for the divorce have been proven) to the decree absolute (after which you are divorced).
The process can take longer if anyone fails to deal with the various pieces of paperwork promptly or your lawyer advises to delay applying for a decree absolute.
Arrangements for any children are dealt with at the same time as the divorce. You cannot obtain a decree absolute unless the court is satisfied that satisfactory arrangements for the children’s welfare are in place.
Reaching a financial settlement is a separate matter. How long this takes depends very much on your relationship with your spouse and the complexity of your financial affairs and whether you are able to reach an agreement.
Often, the financial settlement can be negotiated over the same period as the divorce proceedings, and is then confirmed by a consent order. Even where this is not the case and a court application becomes necessary, it is normally possible to reach a financial settlement within around 12 months.
If you have any queries regarding a matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of family law solicitors in Devon on 01392 207020.