The courts are able to make a range of orders for cash payments, transfer of property or other assets, maintenance and pension sharing. The position is not the same for unmarried couples who have been living together so find out more on our Living Together page.
You will normally be expected to attend a session with a mediator before making an application to the court. This is to determine whether a non-court process may assist you.
If you do apply to the court to decide on the division of property or assets, the court will impose a timetable and you may be advised to issue an application to ensure that negotiations do not drag on for too long.
After the application has been issued you and your partner will be required to:
- Complete a Form E which is a document setting out all your financial details
- Produce copies of documents which your lawyer will explain, such as bank or building society statements, payslips, valuations and accounts.
The court will then fix a first directions appointment (FDA) before a District Judge who will identify the issues between you and make orders such as dealing with the valuation of your assets. This has to be twelve weeks after the application is issued.
If things aren’t sorted out at the FDA the next stage is the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment (FDR). You and your partner both attend this court hearing, where the District Judge, with the assistance of your solicitor, will try to help you to reach an agreement on your finances. At the FDR the Judge will usually indicate what he or she thinks would be a reasonable outcome.
If this still does not succeed, there will be a final hearing at a later date heard by a different District Judge. It will be several months before you have an appointment for a final hearing. At any time before the final hearing it is possible to reach an agreement and submit a note of that agreement, called a consent order, to the judge for approval.
Can the courts help us to make a clean break?
Sometimes financial arrangements can be settled through a ‘clean break’, which means a lump sum payment and/or property transfer and no ongoing maintenance. A clean break ends the financial relationship between you and you partner.
Often, however, there may not be enough assets for a ‘clean break’ and for that or some other reason regular maintenance payments from one person to the other may be needed. These can be open-ended (during joint lives or until the person receiving the payments remarries or enters a new civil partnership) or for a fixed period of time.
Even where there is a ‘clean break’, support will still be payable for any dependent children.
Find a Resolution lawyer
A trusted lawyer can play a big part in helping to sort out issues involving the care of the children, the home and the finances. Wherever you are there is a Resolution member near you, ready to help and able to talk you through mediation, collaborative law and the different processes you can use to sort things out.