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Explaining the Family Court Financial Order

27th April 2021

This is the first of what will be a three-part overview of the complexity surrounding the concept of a Family Court Financial Order.

It would seem to be a good starting point to explain that there is no such thing as a single Family Court Financial Order. There is in fact a range of orders, which cover the various financial arrangements reached by a couple in the case of a divorce. The orders that apply for each set of spouses will depend entirely upon the circumstances of their relationship.

The range of Orders

Before we look into enforcement, it is worth noting the types of Financial Order that might be issued by a court following a divorce, which include the following:

A Consent Order – An order detailing how assets and debts in a marriage should be divided, which the couple could negotiate between themselves, or via a mediator, divorce solicitor or judge. If a divorce financial settlement has been finalised, a Judge can make it legally binding via a Consent Order, provided they believe the terms of the agreement are fair and reasonable.

A Clean Break Order – This ends the right of each spouse to make a financial provision claim against the other. A Consent Order also acts as a Clean Break order, but in cases where there are no assets to split, a stand-alone Clean Break Order is still needed to sever the financial links between a couple.

Without either a Consent Order or a Clean Break Order in place there is a chance that divorcees can still demand money from each other in the future, unless they have remarried. It is important to understand the Decree Absolute that ends a marriage does not end any financial relationship.

A Pension Sharing Order – Ex partners may be entitled to a share of each other’s pensions and if so, then a Pension Sharing Order will detail how any pension pot should be split. This will be dependant on factors such as age, the pot size, marriage length, personal needs and expected future career projects.

A Property Adjustment Order – This order deals with the family home and covers details such as who has the right to live in the home, how long they have that right and whose name the home should be in.

A Maintenance Order – This order sets out how much spousal maintenance has to be paid to the financially weaker party and for how long. It will depend upon factors such as marriage length, the assets and needs of each party, along with the role each party played within the marriage.

Maintenance Orders of this kind are also known as Periodical Payment Orders and are sometimes obtained on an interim basis – known as Maintenance Pending Suit – until the divorce is finalised.

A Lump Sum Order – as the name suggests, a Lump Sum Order calls for one party to pay a lump sum of money to the other. In most cases this will be in return for something such as keeping the family home or a business, and the payment can be made in instalments.

In the next part of this series, we will be examining how the financial figures for such orders are reached.

What can be said of all Financial Orders is that once approved and issued by a Judge, they are legally binding in England and Wales. This can often lead to issues, as many assume that the granting of a Financial Order is the end of the matter.

Sadly, this is often not the case. Many parties experience issues in ensuring the Financial Order is adhered to and that they receive the money the court decided they were entitled to. We will review how Financial Orders can be enforced in the third part of this series.

In the meantime, if divorce is on your mind and you would like to discuss possible solutions to achieve a good divorce, then please get in touch with Mike Vale, a Family Law Consultant here at Ansons on 01543 267236 or email mvale@ansonssolicitors.com

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