A complex subject. In divorce proceedings financial issues are generally known as Ancillary Relief (now formally called Financial Remedy Proceedings or applications) where the Court has some statutory guidelines on factors to consider. Despite some well publicised cases there is no hard and fast rule that assets will be divided equally. Indeed the overriding message from the Courts is one of fairness. Of course, what one person feels is fair is not what another sees as being that and you can be sure that if they leave it to a judge to decide neither will feel happy with what the judge considers fair, particularly not after incurring heavy legal bills and reducing what assets there were. Indeed this is another message coming from the Courts – to keep costs in proportion to the assets in issue.
It is for this reason that mediation has become increasingly popular as a way of trying to sort out differences and come to an arrangement which represents a way of settling issues without an expensive court case. There are, of course, situations which demand firm, decisive and quick action as well as detailed investigation.
We have experience of the more complex situations which can arise such as;
...all of which throw up particular difficulties and considerations. Other special cases can include short marriages, inheritances and exceptional contributions.
Generally, the longer the marriage the more one is looking at a more or less equal division of assets and any outcome is judged against what has come to be known as 'the yardstick of equality'.
Pensions are in a category of their own as they are generally not available as cash now and working out a fair division may need a report from an expert in the field but this need not be as expensive as it sounds and can bring rewards. Whilst the starting point tends to be with the Cash Equivalent Value (“CEV”) that is rarely the end point. Pension sharing is a complex topic in itself but in view of the costs charged by some pension providers it is sometimes more effective to trade off a claim for an interest in a pension and have a greater share of more immediately available assets such as cash or property. We have experience of dealing with Armed Forces Pensions (AFPS75 and AFPS05).
The procedure set out in pursuing an application is involved and requires detailed preparation and strict timescales with risk of cost penalties if not complied with so proper advice and representation such as we can provide is important.
Maintenance for children can always be agreed between the parents, which is obviously best and can also be incorporated into a court order by consent in divorce proceedings. However, if maintenance is not being paid then a referral to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) (formerly Child Support Agency - CSA) will have to be made. The situation with the CMS has changed but they do have a reasonable website which includes a calculator so you can have a go at self-assessment. They will also carry out an assessment for a fixed fee but do make charges if involved in collection. The CMS formula based on gross pay less pension contributions is frequently adopted as a starting point for maintenance but may not be appropriate in what have been termed 'big money' cases.
Family Law in Cornwall can help you through the process of sorting out financial arrangements and can arrange representation at any court in England and Wales either by suitably qualified solicitor or barrister. In complex cases we may suggest taking advice from specialist barrister (counsel) in any event.
We can talk about different ways of funding Financial Remedy Proceedings including instalment payments by regular monthly payment or possibly fixed fees for different stages.
Please call us on 01726 68926 to arrange an initial meeting without charge or obligation to talk matters through in more detail.