Answering your legal questions: what will happen to your finances when getting a divorce?

Woman taking off a wedding band after her divorce was finalised

Financial claims don't automatically end just because the marriage does, which is why seeking legal advice can help. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We ask: what happens to your money when separating from your spouse?

In a conversation with Demelza Butler from Gotelee Solicitors LLP in Suffolk, we discuss how the new no-fault divorce rules will affect financial settlements.

Q: What marital assets will need to be considered when getting divorced?

A: Most financial negotiations revolve around what will happen to the family home, such as who will live there, if there will be a transfer of ownership or if the property will be sold. Other assets owned by either party will also be considered, as will your pension. Financial claims can also be made for maintenance payments to provide an income for your spouse or support for your children.

Demelza Butler, partner at Gotelee Solicitors LLP in Suffolk

Demelza Butler, partner at Gotelee Solicitors LLP. - Credit: Gotelee Solicitors LLP

Q: Why is it important to reach an agreement on finances when getting a divorce?

A: Just because your divorce is finalised, this doesn’t automatically mean an end to any financial claims you have against one another. Claims are only closed when dismissed by the court or if a settlement is agreed upon by both parties and approved by the court.

Financial claims can also be made even after you receive the final order of divorce, meaning if no agreement is declared, your spouse could ask you for money in the future. This happened in 2015, during the Wyatt v Vince case when a woman brought a claim against her ex-husband for financial relief, over 20 years after getting divorced. Since the divorce, he had launched a successful business and become a millionaire.

Ensuring you tie up any financial claims when getting divorced can help protect you. It’s best to have a clean income and capital break, wherever possible, to help your family move on.

Q: Will the new divorce laws change how financial settlements are made?

A: The no-fault divorce that will be introduced on April 6 2022 won’t alter how financial decisions are reached but may change how people go about it.

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The new laws will make it easier for couples to apply for divorce. They will no longer need to cite facts for the application to be granted, preventing couples from needing to play ‘the blame game’.

While this is good news, we expect it shall lead to more people dealing with proceedings themselves and fewer seeking legal advice to help them understand what important financial decisions still need to be made. This could cause divorcing couples to struggle to reach a fair decision about their finances or leave them vulnerable to claims in the future.

Divorced couple on wedding cake making financial decisions after separating.

When getting divorced, you'll need to make important financial decisions, such as what will happen to your family home? - Credit: Getty Images

My advice to anyone considering a divorce is to chat with a family law solicitor to make sure you’re aware of everything that you need to know.

Q: How long can it take to settle finances when separating?

A: Every case is unique. On average, if you need to make an application to the court it will take between 12 to 18 months to settle a claim. However, this depends on the situation and for many it is possible to reach an agreement without having to apply to the court.

Q: How can divorcing couples reach an agreement about their finances?

A: You can explore alternative resolution methods like mediation and round-table meetings to settle a financial claim. Where we can, we try to avoid going through court, as this can be costly, lengthy, and cause unnecessary distress.

Divorced father playing with daughter outside in Suffolk

Gotelee Solicitors LLP in Suffolk are experienced family law specialists that can help you navigate divorce proceedings so you can focus on the future and your family. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We can explain what options you have and help you negotiate an outcome that you’re happy with. Our team of experienced solicitors can provide the bespoke advice you need.

Q: When is the best time to seek legal advice if you’re considering a divorce?

A: I’d always recommend speaking to a family law solicitor as soon as possible. Even if you’re not ready to begin divorce proceedings, it can put your mind at ease and enable you to make an informed decision about what’s best for your family.

Getting divorced can be a daunting time for anyone. We can offer much-needed reassurance and legal services that ensure financial security for you and your family. Most clients want to know what their future will look like and if they will be ok. We can help you find these answers and make sure you’re prepared to take the next steps wherever they may lead you.

Gotelee Solicitors LLP is an award-winning legal firm that specialises in all aspects of family law. They have offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Framlingham and Woodbridge. At the 2018 Law Society Excellence Awards, they were highly commended for their innovation. They are committed to delivering a professional, personal and high-quality service.

Visit gotelee.co.uk for more information, or to book a consultation, contact Demelza on 01473 298124 or email demelza.butler@gotelee.co.uk.