Three ways to negotiate a financial settlement on divorce

The divorce rate for heterosexual couples in England and Wales may have hit a 45-year low in 2017 according to Office for National Statistics data, but break-ups still happen and when they do, financial arrangements between the separating couple need to be agreed.

Issues requiring consideration include how assets should be divided to ensure each party can survive financially after the split, how savings and pensions should be allocated, and whether the family home needs to be sold and maintenance paid.

Fiona Yellowlees, family law solicitor at WBW Solicitors, outlines three of the ways divorcing couples can reach a financial agreement without resorting to court to sort out all the details. Although inviting the Court to approve your agreement is always recommended.

Mediation

Mediation involves a family law mediator, who is an independent third party who does not offer advice or take sides, getting the separating couple together and talking through the issues with them. The aim is to help the couple identify the matters that need to be resolved and find a solution that is acceptable to both sides.

Mediation is not always appropriate (for example, if domestic violence is a factor) however, it can be quicker and more cost effective than a settlement hammered out in court. The mediation process is confidential and offers the couple the chance to try to reach their own financial agreement.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law entails each spouse appointing their own collaborative lawyer who will accompany them to face-to-face meetings to try to identify the issues and explore ways of resolving them.

The benefit of collaborative law is that each party has their own specialist lawyer present at their side to offer legal advice throughout the process, with the aim of reaching an agreement on future financial arrangements without involving the courts, except to approve the final agreement.

Solicitor involvement

It is highly advisable for anyone considering divorce to consult a solicitor before starting any financial agreement process. A specialist family law solicitor can offer independent advice on legal rights, responsibilities and entitlements, as well as outline the possible options and ensure you have all the required paperwork ready for the process ahead.

A solicitor can also be engaged to negotiate on your behalf with your spouse’s solicitor to reach a financial agreement. Family lawyers are well used to dealing with complex issues such as share pension arrangements and business interests. We can advise if there are concerns about hidden assets and appoint accountants or actuaries to value assets to determine a fair division.

At WBW our family law team take the time to understand your family’s needs. We can correspond on your behalf with the other legal representatives involved to negotiate a settlement and help defuse what can sometimes be a highly charged and stressful situation.

For further information, please contact Fiona Yellowlees in the family law team on 01626 202 415 or email fionayellowlees@wbw.co.uk.  WBW Solicitors has nine offices across Devon & Cornwall.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.