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Negotiating a Financial Settlement

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When you are coming out of a relationship there are a million things to do. Some are crucial and others can wait a while.

One of the things that probably can't wait is sorting out a financial settlement.

In this blog, our Family Law Solicitors look at your best options to negotiate a financial settlement after a family relationship breakdown.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For family law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

Our lawyers speak Arabic, Armenian, Farsi, French/Mauritian Creole, Spanish, Tamil Tagalog/Ilonggo, Urdu/Punjabi

Negotiation or court

People assume that it is either negotiation or court but there are other options. For example, you can start financial court proceedings and continue your negotiations to hopefully reach a financial settlement. If you can reach a compromise, you can ask the family law judge to approve the agreed financial court order. If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-partner the judge can be asked to decide how your assets are split.

The advantage of starting court proceedings whilst you negotiate is that you have a court timetable in place in case you can't reach an agreement.

The disadvantage to starting court proceedings is that you may not have needed to go to court for the first appointment financial hearing or file a Form E if you could have foreseen that you would be able to reach an agreement. The big unknown is whether you or your former partner would have been driven enough to reach a financial compromise without the threat of court proceedings hanging over you.

Whether it is negotiation, court, or both is down to a gut view on what will help you reach an agreement that works for both of you without incurring unnecessary expense or time. The worst-case scenario is 12 or 18 months of negotiation and voluntary financial disclosure without an agreement being reached followed by 12 months of financial court proceedings and a judge then ordering how your assets are divided.

Types of negotiation to reach a financial settlement

You may be deterred from negotiating a financial settlement for a whole host of reasons, such as:

  • Your partner is financially controlling and will use the negotiation to control and manipulate you
  • Your partner has been violent to you and you fear that the reason they want to meet up with you is so they can continue to abuse you
  • Your partner is financially savvy and thinks they can pull a fast one over you whereas that would not be so easy to do in financial court proceedings
  • Your command of English is not as good as your partner's English so you think they will try and bamboozle you in negotiation

It is important to realise that there are different types of financial settlement negotiation. Whilst some may not be suitable for you others may be.

The financial settlement negotiation options include:

  • Reaching an agreement directly with your ex-partner
  • Instructing Family Law Solicitors to negotiate for you
  • Attending roundtable meetings with your Family Law Solicitor to thrash out a financial settlement
  • Going to family mediation with your partner – if you are concerned about domestic violence or a power imbalance a family mediator can suggest ways in which family mediation may work for you
  • Attending lawyer-supported family mediation
  • Family arbitration – where a family arbitrator decides on the financial settlement so it is akin to a private judge but the process can be made bespoke to your circumstances
  • Start financial court proceedings and negotiate, through lawyers, at the financial dispute resolution hearing. This hearing is designed to help you reach a compromise and is sometimes called ‘mediation by the judge.’ The judge cannot force you to compromise and settle. If you cannot reach an agreement the financial application will be listed for a final hearing before a different family judge

In any of these financial settlement negotiation options, it is best to speak to a Family Law Solicitor about your rights, the power of the family court judge, and the likely court-based outcome. Without all that information you cannot reach a fair financial settlement.

With some of the negotiation options, you are supported through the whole negotiation by a specialist Family Law Solicitor whilst with others a Family Law Solicitor will advise at key stages. Our Family Law Solicitors can advise on the best option for your circumstances.

Next steps after you have agreed on a financial settlement

If you agree to a financial settlement with your former partner then it is important to convert your agreement into a binding financial court order.

If you have an agreement with your ex-partner, it normally is unnecessary to physically attend a court hearing to get your order. Instead, your Family Law Solicitor can email the judge with your proposed financial court order and ask them to approve it.

Without a financial court order in place, you will not be able to enforce your agreement. For example, if you agree to a pension sharing order the pension administrator will not implement the pension sharing order without there being a sealed financial court order and pension sharing annex. For example, if your partner agrees to pay you spousal maintenance but does not pay it, you will need a court order before you can go back to court to enforce the order. For example, a mortgage company may not agree to transfer the mortgage on the family home into your name unless there is a court order that says the house is to be transferred to you and the mortgage company agrees that you can afford to take on the mortgage in your name because of the wording of the spousal maintenance order.

Talk to OTS Solicitors

Working out how best to reach a financial settlement is hard work. Our expert Family Law Solicitors have the experience to help guide you through the options and help you secure the best financial settlement for your circumstances.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For family law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form.

Our lawyers speak Arabic, Armenian, Farsi, French/Mauritian Creole, Spanish, Tamil Tagalog/Ilonggo, Urdu/Punjabi

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