The financial implications of a divorce or separation are possibly the most serious in terms of the practical and emotional impact on the couple and their children. To cope with the change in circumstances, a partner often has to find work (where they may previously have been at home with the children) or change their job to work around childcare. Equally, the party without the children is often liable for some form of maintenance and has to cope with extra demands on their salary.
Divorce or dissolution proceedings can include Financial Orders (previously known as 'Ancillary Relief') and Financial Remedy concerned with the financial provision for children, other financial and property matters. Financial Remedy is covered by the Family Procedure Rules 2010 but legal opinion suggests that the law itself has not changed.
If both parties can agree on all relevant issues, then a judge may be asked to make orders without anyone having to attend the court. If these matters have not been agreed, then the judge will make an order after hearing what both parties and their lawyers have to say.
Frequently one partner may be entitled to maintenance from the other partner. A solicitor will advise you on how much maintenance you may be entitled to, or have to pay, and on matters such as sharing pension benefits , etc. He or she will also be able to advise you about revising your existing will or making a new one to reflect your new circumstances (see our separate 'Making a Will Guide' for more information).
If your circumstances change due to the breakdown of your relationship, you may be able to claim various means-tested or non means-tested benefits. You should speak to your local Jobcentre Plus or visit www.direct.gov.uk to find out more about your entitlements.
It is inevitable that, following divorce, dissolution or separation, one of the former partners will leave the family home. If the house is owned in joint names then one party cannot sell it without the consent of the other. Where the parties cannot agree after using mediation or collaborative practice, the court can be asked to decide who leaves and who stays - or whether the property has to be sold.
The court's first concern will be for the proper housing of any children. The court may, therefore, order that the parent caring for the children be allowed to remain in the home until the children complete full-time education.
The court has the power to order the transfer of the property to either party, or it can order its sale, with the proceeds split between the former partners. However, the court is unlikely to order the sale unless the money raised will be enough to ensure that the children will be rehoused.
Children Effected by Separation
Counselling Advice for Separation
Financial Advice During Separation
Mediation Advice for Couples
Protection from Domestic Violence
Useful Contacts for Separation
Splitting Up when Living Together