Agreeing a divorce financial settlement is a key milestone when negotiating a divorce from your partner
Some couples are able to decide how to divide up their assets - agreeing their divorce financial settlement - without going to court. To make this financial settlement legally binding, a solicitor can draft a 'consent order' that both parties then sign.
You send this to the court with a completed Form A ('Notice of an application for a financial order'), a Form D81 ('Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a financial remedy') and a £53 fee.
However, many couples fail to agree a divorce financial settlement and end up having to let the court decide for them.
In most cases, the process follows the ten steps set out below. Agreement may be reached at any point in the process, in which case it is normal to then agree and sign a legally binding court order to confirm the details.
1. Notice of application - Form A
Sending a completed Form A ('Notice of an application for a financial order') starts off the process of financial settlement.
2. First Directions Appointment date
The court sets a date for the First Directions Appointment (FDA). The judge will use this meeting to consider what information each side needs to provide in order to create the divorce financial settlement.
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3. Financial statement - Form E
Each of you sends the court a Form E (Financial Statement) at least five weeks before the FDA. You also send a copy to each other.
4. FDA documents
These documents are filed two weeks before the FDA:
- A concise statement of issues.
- A chronology of events.
- A questionnaire to address issues arising from the Form E.
- A Form G, through which you tell the court whether the FDA meeting can be combined with the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) meeting. Typically the FDR meeting takes place after the FDA meeting.
5. Costs - Form H
Each party sends the court a completed Form H just before the FDA meeting, listing any costs they have incurred.
6. FDA meeting at court
The judge will decide what valuations and other evidence must be provided and what questions must be answered by each party in respect of the divorce financial settlement.
Many judges are keen to see whether a resolution meeting (see 8 below) can take place at this stage. If not, a date is set for the FDR meeting.
7. File proposals
Both sides answer questionnaires, prepare evidence, and submit proposals to the court for the divorce financial settlement.
Both sides also submit a second Form H, listing updated costs.
8. FDR hearing
The judge will try to get both parties to agree to a financial settlement. Most divorcing couples settle at this stage (or soon afterwards). If not, the judge sets the date for a final hearing.
9. Further proposals
The negotiations continue between the two sides, including revised proposals for settlement that are sent to the court and to the other party.
10. Final hearing
In the absence of any agreement, and following the submission of updated costs on a Form H1, a new judge decides on a financial settlement.