Applying for a Financial Court Order when you Have Reached a Divorce Financial Agreement
If you have reached an agreement with your ex-husband or your ex-wife about how your assets will be split after your divorce you may question if you need a financial court order. A divorce solicitor will tell you that a court order is necessary and explain what could happen if you don’t obtain an order.
Why you need a financial court order
If you have reached a divorce financial settlement by agreement, you still need a financial court order. There are several reasons why you need an order:
- It gives you financial security – if your ex-partner changes their mind and wants more than you originally agreed upon you can rely on the court order to prevent additional claims for cash. For example, your ex may say the original agreement was unfair because the value of your business has gone up more than the equity in the family home or that they need more because they did not get a share of your pension when they negotiated the financial deal
- You can enforce a court order – you may think that your ex-spouse won’t breach your agreement but, for example, if you agreed that the family home would be sold, they may be reluctant to sell the property if it means they have to downsize. A court order can include the mechanics for the sale and if a spouse is resistant to a sale the court can order that a judge has the authority to sign the transfer documents. You may think it unlikely that you will need to enforce an order but situations change, such as your ex-spouse or you meeting a new partner, and that altering the dynamics
- Pensions – if your financial agreement includes pension sharing the pension administrator is not allowed to implement your agreement until they have a financial court order, pension sharing annex, and the final order of divorce
- Third parties – you may need a financial court order where third parties are involved. For example, if one of you is at potential risk of bankruptcy with the involvement of a trustee in bankruptcy. For example, if a mortgage company will only transfer the mortgage into your ex-spouse’s sole name if the transfer is made under a court order or if there is a spousal maintenance order so your ex-spouse can persuade the mortgage company that they have enough income to be able to take the mortgage over on their own
- Clean break – some financial agreements include a clean break to stop any future financial claims by you or your ex-spouse. If you have negotiated a clean break, it is important to have the security of a binding financial court order that endorses and confirms the clean break
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Applying for a financial court order
If you have reached a financial agreement through direct discussion, solicitor negotiations, or family mediation there is normally no need to go to a court hearing to get your financial court order. Your divorce solicitor can send the paperwork to the court for approval and, in the vast majority of cases, a judge will agree to make the financial court order with no alterations to the draft order or only minor ‘drafting tweaks’.
Broken down into stages, to obtain a financial court order you have to:
- Check there is an agreement that is capable of being made into a financial court order – if you negotiated your agreement direct then your divorce solicitor can check your agreement for you
- Check if the court can make a financial court order – the court can only make a financial court order once you have obtained a conditional order of divorce. If you got divorced some time ago and have a decree nisi of divorce the court can still make a financial court order
- Check if any relevant third parties are OK with the agreement. For example, the mortgage company if a house and mortgage are going to be transferred into one spouse’s name or a pension administrator if a pension sharing order is being requested
- Draw up the draft financial court order and exchange it with your ex-spouse’s solicitor and make any changes needed
- Swap statements of financial information summarising your assets and income. These statements are filed in court with your draft financial court order. The court will not approve a financial court order unless these statements are prepared and filed
- Send the draft financial court order to any relevant third parties. For example, to a pension administrator for their approval of the wording of the pension sharing order
- Ask the court to approve the financial court order by sending the court the required paperwork and court fee. In the vast majority of cases, the judge will make the financial court order requested if the order has been properly prepared and the statement of financial information explains why the court order has been agreed upon
- Answer any questions the court may have on the proposed financial court order
- Once the sealed financial court order is received from the court send it to any relevant third parties. For example, the pension administrator, financial advisor, or property solicitor if the financial court order includes pension sharing, investment transfers, or the transfer of property
- Finalise the divorce proceedings as without the final order of divorce the financial court order cannot be enforced
- Diary up. If the financial court order includes spousal maintenance your divorce solicitor should check and diary up review dates for increases in line with retail price index rises or end dates and make sure everything in the court order has been sorted out, such as the implementation of a pension sharing order, the taking out of life insurance or changes to a pension nomination
That list may look exhausting but the job of a divorce solicitor is to convert agreements into financial court orders.
At Evolve Family Law we recognise that if you have reached a financial agreement, you do not want to hang around whilst divorce solicitors get out their fountain pens to prepare financial court paperwork and then post it back and forth between spouses and solicitors.
Evolve uses technology to standardise and speed up the process of drafting family court orders, and as importantly, to make the obtaining of a financial court order more cost-effective and value for money for you.
It is the combination of experience and technology that means Evolve Family Law can offer transparent pricing and fixed fees for financial court orders. We are proud to say that we are one of the first law firms in the country to publish our fees online in a handy user-friendly guide without hidden extras as the quoted fees include VAT.
Some financial court orders are more complicated than others, especially where there are businesses or trusts involved, and in other situations, you may not be able to reach a financial agreement and so need advice on the financial court process. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, Evolve Family Law can help with friendly approachable expert assistance combined with transparent costs. The first step is to contact us to discuss how our divorce solicitors can help you.