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  • Writer's pictureEddison Cogan Legal Team

Navigating Financial Agreements Pre- and Post-Divorce 

Updated: May 13

Divorce can be a very challenging process, often said to be one of life’s most stressful events. Beyond the emotional turmoil, there are significant financial implications that need to be addressed.  


Financial agreements are central to ensuring a fair and equitable division of assets and financial responsibilities and are therefore a determining factor in the future quality of life of separating partners and their dependants.  


In this article, we identify key aspects of financial agreements and offer some guidance on how to navigate this complex terrain. 


Understanding Financial Agreements  


When a marriage ends, one of the primary concerns is the division of assets and financial responsibilities. In the UK, there are several legal mechanisms to help couples reach financial settlements post-divorce. These mechanisms have developed over many years in an attempt to ensure that both parties are treated fairly and that their financial needs are met.  


The most important legislative measures are generally considered to be Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act (1973) which considers the following factors:  


  1. Income, earning capacity, property, and financial resources of each party, both now and in the foreseeable future. 

  1. Financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities of each party, including those arising from the care of any children. 

  1. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage. 

  1. The age and health of each party and any children involved. 

  1. Any contributions made by each party to the welfare of the family, including both financial and non-financial contributions. 

  1. Any conduct by either party that is deemed relevant to the case. However, it should be noted that while issues such as domestic violence are considered relevant, infidelity is generally not relevant.  

  1. The value of any benefits (such as pensions) that either party may lose the chance to acquire as a result of the divorce. 

  1. The duration of the marriage and the ages of any dependent children. 

  1. Any other relevant circumstances that the court considers important. 


Consent Orders 


A Consent Order is a legally binding document that outlines the financial agreement between the divorcing parties.  


It covers various aspects such as the division of property, assets, savings, pensions, and ongoing financial responsibilities like child maintenance. 


Both parties need to agree on the terms before it can be submitted to the court for approval. In other words, the parties determine what the Orders will be (by consent) and the court makes those Orders.  


Once approved by the court, the Consent Order becomes legally binding, and failure to comply with its terms can result in legal action.  


Mediation, Negotiation and Collaborative Law 

Mediation, solicitor to solicitor negotiation, and collaborative law with one or more solicitors acting are alternative methods for reaching a financial agreement without going to court. 


Mediation involves a neutral third party (a mediator) who helps the divorcing couple come to a mutual agreement by facilitating conversations between them. At ECL we provide trained mediators and can conduct mediations in person at our office or via Zoom or Teams.  


Collaborative law involves both parties and the parties’ two respective lawyers (although sometimes one solicitor can act for both parties in these circumstances) working together to reach a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the ‘collaborative lawyers’ cannot represent their clients in court but must be replaced by lawyers new to the case. This enables collaborative lawyers to be privy to information that the other party would not normally want the other side’s lawyer to be aware of.  


These methods are intended to be less adversarial, and mediation in particular is much more cost-effective than going to court. 


Court Proceedings 


If an agreement cannot be reached through negotiation, mediation or collaboration, the court may have to determine as well as make a financial order. This is a high-risk approach, because there is no guarantee a court will make orders that suit either party, hence the appeal of Consent Orders agreed to in advance by the parties themselves.  


The court will consider various factors, known as Section 25 factors, including the financial needs of both parties, the welfare of any children, and the assets and debts involved. 


It's usual to seek legal advice and representation when going through court proceedings. 


Tips for Navigating Financial Agreements in Bristol 


Try to maintain open and respectful communication with your ex-spouse during negotiations. This can help in reaching an amicable agreement, which is often less emotionally taxing and costly. 


When negotiating a financial agreement, think about your long-term financial security. Consider factors like housing, retirement, and child support. 


Mediation is a less adversarial way to reach an agreement and is nearly always less expensive and time-consuming than court proceedings. However, mediation has benefits other than speed, cost-savings and privacy – relationships (even hostile relationships) are usually improved by the mediation process and many clients comment that their level of stress and anxiety is significantly reduced.  


Conclusion 

Financial agreements are a central consideration before and after the divorce process. Whether you opt for negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or court proceedings, it's essential to prioritize fairness and open communication. Seeking professional legal advice and guidance can make the process smoother and help you secure a more stable financial future as you move forward with your life after divorce. 


At Eddison Cogan Lawyers, we are here to help.  

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