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How to Navigate a Divorce

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  • A divorce can be a stressful time. When you divorce or end a civil partnership in England, you and your ex-partner need to agree how to separate your finances and sort out maintenance and custody of the children if any.
  • You might get things like:
    • A share of your partner’s pension – Including State pension or private pension plans.
    • Regular maintenance payments to help with children or living expenses.
  • You can usually avoid going to court hearings about divorce if you agree on how to split your money and property. If you and your ex-partner agree on how to divide money and property, you need to apply for a consent order to make it legally binding. It is usually more straightforward to divide money and property before you apply for the final legal document to end the relationship. The final legal document is the decree absolute if you are divorcing.

You and your ex-partner have to:

  • Draft a consent order and sign the draft consent order – you also need 2 photocopies of the signed original. One of you also needs to fill in a notice of an application for a financial order. Send the signed forms and copies with the £50 fee for dealing with your paperwork to divorce or end your civil partnership. Keep your own copies.
  • There is usually no court hearing. A judge will approve your consent order to make it legally binding if they think it is fair. If they do not think it is fair, they can ask you to change it. You can use a mediator or get other help to resolve issues out of court. However if you cannot agree on everything, you can ask the court to make a financial order.

Maintenance payments in divorce

  • The court sometimes tells the person with the higher income to make regular maintenance payments to help with the other person’s living costs. This is called a ‘maintenance order’. A maintenance payment can be set for:
    • A limited period of time or
    • Until one of you dies, marries, or enters into a new civil partnership.
  • The payment can also be changed if you lose your job or get much better-paid work. The court can also decide on child maintenance, but this is often arranged by the Child Maintenance Service.

How the court decides:

  • If you and your ex-partner cannot agree on how to divide your finances you can ask a court to make a financial order (also known as the ‘contested’ route or an ‘ancillary relief order’). This means the court will decide how assets will be split.
  • Getting the court to decide usually takes longer and is more expensive than if you and your ex-partner agree. You must attend a meeting about mediation before you can apply to the court to decide except in certain cases (if there has been domestic abuse, for example).
  • There are three stages-
    1. First appointment – A short hearing with the judge to discuss your application.
    2. Financial dispute resolution (FDR) appointment.
    3. Final hearing.
  • If you are not able to agree, this is when a judge will decide how you must separate your finances. The court will send you and your ex-partner details when the first appointment will be. This is usually 12 to 14 weeks after you apply.
  • You and your ex-partner need to fill in a financial statement for a financial order to show a breakdown of your property and debts. This includes giving an estimate of your future living costs. This includes giving an estimate of your future living costs.

You will also need to collect documents about your finances for navigating divorce, for example:

Rental or mortgage agreements:

  • Pension documents.
  • Loan agreements.
  • Proof of your salary income, for example, P60 or recent pay slips.
  • Details of personal belongings worth more than £500, for example, a car or house contents.

 How long it takes depends on:

  • How many financial dispute resolution appointments you need.
  • If you need a final hearing.
  • If you cannot agree, a judge will decide how assets will be split. They’ll base their decision on how long you’ve been married or in a civil partnership, as well as your:
    • Age.
    • Ability to earn.
    • Property and money.
    • Living expenses.
    • Standard of living.
  • The judge will decide on the fairest way to divide the assets if there is enough to meet everyone’s needs. They will make arrangements for any children first -especially their housing arrangements and child maintenance.  
  • The reason for the divorce or dissolution is not taken into account. The judge will usually try to arrange a ‘clean break’, so everything is shared out, and you no longer have any financial ties to one another.

How much a financial order costs for navigating divorce:

  • The court fee is £255. Solicitor fees vary depending on their experience and where they live. They usually charge by the hour. How much you pay in total depends on how many financial dispute resolution appointments you need and if there will be a final hearing.

Tax when transferring assets:

  • You do not usually have to pay Capital gains tax if you give, or otherwise ‘dispose of’, assets to your husband, wife, or civil partner before you finalize the divorce or civil partnership. Assets include shares, certain personal possessions, and property. You usually do not have to pay tax if you transfer or sell your main home.
  • If you lived together at any point in the tax year that you transferred the asset, the normal rules for spouses and civil partners apply. Otherwise, you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax. You will need to get a valuation of the asset on the date of transfer and use it to work out gain or loss work out gain or loss.
  • The tax year is from 6 April to 5 April the following year. If you transfer an asset after you have divorced or dissolved your civil partnership,you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax on assets you transfer after your relationship has legally ended.

If you need help during these stressful times, contact or WhatsApp us on 07583452230 and we can connect you to the right professional. Visit to find out more about how we can help you with our other services. If you find this information useful, please follow our social media platforms, like, and share it.

Reina D'costa

Dual qualified, experienced, practical and proactive solicitor. Founder of Bizlaw UK, a new model legal service consultancy.