With the introduction of no fault divorce (or no fault dissolution of Civil Partnerships) in April 2022, many couples are choosing a DIY route for their separation in an effort to move forward productively together. There are huge benefits to this, particularly if there are children involved, as being able to divorce without blame or waiting a considerable period can make the whole process less hostile. However, it’s important to remember that your Final Order following a divorce or dissolution doesn’t cover everything…
Once you have your Final Order following the divorce or dissolution process, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had done everything you needed to do. However, your Final Order does not deal with the financial claims you and your partner hold against each other. The only way to end your financial claims against each other is by obtaining a Court Order, setting out what should happen with your finances. This can be done by a Consent Order, which is an agreement you have reached that is drafted into an order and sent to Court for approval, or by the Court making a decision for you.
If you have agreed with your partner that you will finalise your separation online yourselves, perhaps even jointly, you may feel that getting some legal advice will be seen as a confrontational step. Getting advice from a solicitor does not automatically mean that you will end up in Court proceedings sorting out your finances, in fact we try to do the opposite and keep cases out of Court, where appropriate. It is, however, important that you know the extent of the financial claims that can be made and how these are likely to be addressed by the Court to ensure that your agreement is fair and meets your future needs.
In particular, pensions are often overlooked when dealing with a divorce or dissolution, and without the benefit of legal advice. I appreciate that for many, pensions are complex but that is not a reason not to grapple with them. Within a financial settlement, it is possible to share a pension between you, this is known as a pension sharing order. Under this type of order a set percentage of one partner’s pension pot is transferred into a pension pot for the other. A recent Which survey revealed that of the 948 people who have divorced since the law changed in May, 71% didn’t include pension orders in their financial settlement. Now, it may be that some of these are because pensions were offset against other assets but this is still a worryingly high percentage.
Arrangements for your children
In addition to sorting out your finances, if you are co-parents with your partner you will also need to agree on arrangements for your children. When will they see each of you, who will take responsibility for clubs and activities, as well as any child maintenance payments? As a complete opposite to finances, there is no need to obtain a Court Order to set out the arrangements for your children. If you can agree between yourselves, the Court will not need to be involved – they will only get involved you cannot agree. It is, however, helpful to have at least a note of your agreement in writing to avoid any potential confusion later on. You could even put together a parenting plan. You can access lots of support and guidance on the Resolution website about all the different things that can be included in these, but if in doubt, talk to a family solicitor to get further advice.
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We are dedicated to resolving matters as amicably as possible and every solicitor in our family team are members of Resolution which means we have a duty to reduce conflict wherever possible.