The best agreement you can reach upon divorce, is one that both you and your spouse are happy with. However, there are some points that you need to take into account before you make your final decision.
The need for full and frank disclosure
There is a duty on both parties to give full and frank disclosure of their positions, including their income, assets and pensions. The purpose of the disclosure is to make sure that each party knows as much as possible about the other parties’ financial position. Without this information it is difficult for you to know what is fair, and also difficult for your legal advisor to help you. Disclosure will include wage slips, bank statements, pension valuations and documentary evidence of other assets.
If you think your spouse is hiding assets or is going to dispose of assets in their sole name, you need to act quickly and ensure that you get expert advice at the outset.
The Court takes into account a number of factors in deciding how matrimonial assets should be divided. The first consideration is the welfare of any children. The court also has regard to length of marriage, the needs of the parties, any significant difference in income and any contributions which have been made either financially or otherwise. It is therefore important for each party to be open and honest about their financial circumstances and not withhold any information. Failure to make full disclosure could lead to an agreement or decision of the court being overturned.
The dangers of failing to take legal advice
The main risk of failing to take legal advice is that you may reach an agreement which is unfair. Although the thought of spending money on legal fees can be daunting, getting the right advice at the start may result in you getting a better settlement. There are also different ways in which legal costs can be funded. If your spouse earns more than you and can afford a lawyer, but you cannot, an application can sometimes be made to the court for your spouse to help pay your legal costs.
Finalising your agreement in a Consent Order is key
If you and your spouse have been able to reach an agreement, the next step is to formalise it in a Court Order. This is called a Consent Order. Without it, your financial claims remain open indefinitely. Even if you trust your spouse and think they would not make a claim in the future, things do change. If a new partner may come on the scene or you may inherit money, this can affect your former partner’s view about whether to try and claim more from you