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Divorce financial settlement solicitors

Experts in negotiating favourable divorce settlement agreements

During divorce, separation or the dissolution of your civil partnership, one of your main concerns will be money. Who will get what? How will you provide for the children? How will you agree what’s a fair divorce financial settlement? No matter how amicable your parting is, it’s crucial to make sure your finances are settled clearly.

Our family law solicitors are experienced in delivering favourable divorce financial settlements. We can advise you on all aspects of your financial settlement, however complex your financial affairs, including pensions, trusts, business interests and cross-border issues.

Call 0800 422 0123 or contact us online to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your situation with a solicitor in confidence.

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What can be included in a financial settlement?

A financial settlement is a legally binding agreement setting out how you and your ex-partner will divide your assets when you divorce or dissolve your civil partnership.

Your financial settlement can include arrangements for:

  • Property
  • Money, shares and savings
  • Spousal or child maintenance
  • Pensions
  • Division of debt

What are you entitled to in a divorce settlement?

When it comes to splitting finances in a divorce, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines or handy calculators. However, our experienced solicitors will be able to give you an idea of what you might be entitled to.

They will look at your individual financial circumstances, give you an honest view on any problem areas to look out for, and tell you how the Court is likely to view your particular situation.

Our wealth of experience in divorce and financial matters has given us the expertise to advise you on complex areas such as:

When required, we also work closely with financial experts to investigate the nature and value of assets held, or to assist tracing hidden assets.

How to reach a financial settlement agreement

You do not necessarily have to go to Court to reach a financial settlement. There are several other options, including:

  • Resolving the issue between yourselves before seeking our legal advice on the agreement you reach
  • Negotiating through your solicitors, either in writing or through a meeting
  • Mediation or arbitration through a neutral third party
  • Collaborative law: where you, your spouse and your respective solicitors work together to reach an agreement at a series of meetings

Whichever option you choose, it’s still important to have an experienced legal adviser on your side. One of our experienced divorce solicitors can steer you through these sensitive negotiations and help deal with any issues to ensure you achieve a successful financial settlement agreement for both the short and long term.

Once you reach an agreement with your partner it will need to be formalised into a ‘Consent Order’, which will then need to be approved by a Judge to make it legally binding. However, if you’re unable to agree on a financial settlement, the Court will decide what is fair and make a financial order which legally binds you both.

What can affect your financial settlement

The first concern when dividing your family assets is the needs and ongoing welfare of any dependent children. Other factors that might affect how your finances should be split include:

  • Your age, and your partner’s, and how long you’ve been married, including any time spent cohabiting beforehand
  • Your own and your partner’s current and projected future needs
  • Your and your partner’s earning potential both now and in the future, including any health concerns or other foreseeable changes that might affect your earning abilities
  • Whether either of you brought extra assets or money into the marriage – through an inheritance, for example
  • Any family businesses and their value/liquidity
  • Your pension provision compared to your partner’s, particularly if one of you hasn’t worked for any length of time, such as a stay-at-home parent.

Why our clients choose us for divorce financial settlements?

  • Our sensitive and tenacious approach
  • Highly rated for family law in The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide
  • Members of Resolution fully committed to its principles
  • Our team includes trained collaborative lawyers and mediators
  • Broad and deep legal expertise across the firm
  • Competitive fees and a tight control of costs at all times

Try our relationship breakdown tool

Our Parting Ways tool is a great first step in guiding you through the legalities of a relationship breakdown. If your marriage, civil partnership or co-habiting relationship has broken down irreparably, our free easy-to-use tool provides an overview of what you need to consider from a legal perspective.

It only takes a few minutes to complete, and you will receive a guide tailored to your responses. You will not be asked for any personal information unless you decide you would like to speak with one of our solicitors.

Get your guide

Contact a specialist divorce financial settlement specialist

For expert legal advice on negotiating a favourable financial settlement, call 0800 422 0123 or contact us online to arrange an initial confidential consultation.

FAQs on divorce financial settlements

Why should I reach a financial settlement with my ex-partner?

No matter how amicable your split, it’s vital to have a legally binding financial settlement when you’re separating from your partner.

In England and Wales, even after you’re divorced, you can still make financial claims against your ex (and vice versa) and there’s no time limit on this unless there’s an order stating that any settlement approved by the Court is ‘full and final’ or ‘a clean break’.

This is why it’s crucial to have a Consent Order with exact details of your financial arrangements with your ex-partner.

When should I get a financial settlement?

You can agree a financial settlement any time during the divorce proceedings – either before or after the divorce is finalised – however it’s usually best to reach an agreement on your finances before you finalise your divorce.

Your relationship, good or bad, with your ex-partner will affect how long it takes to reach a financial agreement, and it will also depend on how complex your financial affairs are. In most cases, you should be able to reach a financial settlement within the same timeframe as the divorce proceedings, but arguments can delay or extend the time it takes to divorce.

Could the reason for our divorce affect a financial settlement?

Rarely will the reason for your divorce affect your financial settlement. The guiding principle is that any settlement should be fair and give priority to the welfare and needs of any children.

However, if you’re divorcing because of extreme behaviour such as domestic violence, or if one of you has been trying to sabotage the financial settlement by reckless spending, or by hiding or destroying assets, the Court may take this into consideration. If you believe your partner’s behaviour meets any of these criteria, tell your solicitor at once.

How are finances split in a divorce?

The Court has ultimate discretion on the division of assets on divorce, guided by fundamental principles of sharing, needs and fairness. How your assets will be split depends on how long you’ve been married or in a civil partnership, as well as other factors, including:

  • Your age and your partner’s
  • Your ability to earn an income
  • Your health
  • Your property and money
  • Your standard of living and living expenses
  • Your role in the marriage (e.g. were you the primary breadwinner or the stay-at-home parent)

The Court will always strive to find the fairest solution, but arrangements for the children’s welfare (in terms of housing and child maintenance) always have the highest priority.

What is a fair split in a divorce?

Assets are not automatically split equally in a divorce. The main consideration is the individual needs of everyone involved, particularly the children.

The Court may consider a 50/50 split of the matrimonial assets if that meets everyone’s needs – or an unequal split if they think one of you is in greater need than the other. For example, if one of you earns less than the other due to childcare arrangements.

What are matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets?

It’s important to distinguish between your matrimonial assets and your non-matrimonial assets, as it could make a difference to your divorce financial settlement.

Matrimonial assets are the financial assets that you and your spouse built up (jointly or separately) during the time you were married, including your:

  • Family home
  • Other property or land
  • Pensions
  • Savings
  • Cash in the bank
  • Vehicles
  • Furniture and appliances
  • Investments
  • Businesses

Non-matrimonial assets are financial assets which, for instance, were acquired before you were married or after your separation. Non-matrimonial assets typically include things like inheritances, family businesses and property. Depending on your circumstances, and each of your assessed needs, these non-matrimonial assets may or may not form part of the settlement.

How are matrimonial and non-matrimonial assets treated in a divorce?

Different judges may reach different solutions on identical facts, all of which would be within their judicial discretion. However, a line of cases has established a standard approach to the way the Courts consider matters.

The starting point is that assets accrued during a marriage are divided equally, and the guiding principles applied are “sharing” and “needs”. The matrimonial home, for instance, is normally considered a matrimonial asset, so may be divided equally between the parties even if it was owned by one of them before the marriage.

“Sharing” cases

An appropriate financial outcome to a sharing case is an equal division of all assets accrued during your marriage that adequately provides for the capital and income needs of each party and any children.

Where your resources exceed your needs, applying the sharing principle generally leads to an equal division of the assets that you accrued during the marriage.

The sharing principle does not apply to property that is inherited or introduced by one party during the marriage. The exception is where such property has become part of the matrimonial assets, for example, by being put into joint names or converted into a different type of asset enjoyed by the family.

In some cases, the sharing principle may be applied at a later date, with a reallocation of resources in the future. Typically, this may involve one of you having a deferred interest in the matrimonial home that will be realised once any children finish their education.

“Needs” cases

In these cases, where your needs and the needs of any children cannot be met by equal division of matrimonial assets, an unequal division of resources may be appropriate. Each of your needs are likely to dictate how capital and income are divided. Inherited assets, or assets introduced by one party during the marriage, may count for little.

Are debts considered matrimonial assets?

Yes. If you and your spouse have accrued any debts during the term of your marriage, these could also be split as part of your divorce financial settlement. This includes your mortgage, credit cards, overdrafts, loans and any other commitments.

Are business assets included in a divorce settlement?

Business assets can be included in a divorce settlement. For example, a family business is likely to be seen as a source of income rather than an asset in the same way as a family home or savings pot. So even if one of the partners had no direct involvement in the business, or did not help to build it up, they may still be entitled to some of its value.

What happens to your business in a divorce could depend on careful, delicate negotiation between you, your partner and possibly other family members, so it’s vital your solicitor has the right expertise. At Clarke Willmott we have many years’ experience supporting family businesses and farming families – some over several generations.

Are overseas assets included in a financial settlement?

Assets held overseas could be considered and included in the same way as any other assets.

If you or your partner is a non-UK national, lives abroad or has property, a business or other assets overseas, consult one of our international divorce solicitors. There may be multi-jurisdictional issues to consider as part of your financial settlement.

And if you suspect your spouse may be hiding overseas assets or moving assets offshore to make them more difficult to recover, tell your solicitor immediately.

Your key contacts

Rayner Grice


Rayner advises on the issues that arise for an individual following the breakdown of a relationship in relation to divorce/civil partnership dissolution, their financial affairs and their children.
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Adam Maguire


Adam specialises in divorce and family law. He advises clients regarding all aspects of private family law including cohabitation, separation, divorce and related financial issues, disputes concerning children and nuptial agreements.
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Clare Webb


Clare has built her practice with a commitment to helping her clients resolve their issues in a constructive and conciliatory way. In doing so, she will always have regard to the longterm hopes and aspirations for the family as a whole, whilst of course protecting her client’s interest.
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Philippa Yeo


Philippa is committed to helping couples navigate all aspects of the legal process on the breakdown of their relationship in a pragmatic, collaborative and family-focused way including supporting couples to reach arrangements for their children and achieve healthy future co-parenting relationships.
View profile for Philippa Yeo >

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