Financial proceedings are initiated by filing a document known as Form A at court.The court will then draw up directions and both partners disclose their financial circumstances to the other via Form E. This must be accompanied by supporting information, including:
- business accounts
- property valuations
- mortgage statements
- insurance policy valuations
- bank statements
- pension valuations
- payslips and P60s
- other useful information, such as credit card statements.
The divorcing partners can seek to reach a financial settlement without the court’s involvement but if this is not possible, the matter will be heard by a judge at what is called a first directions appointment (FDA) or first appointment.
This hearing is used to ensure that each party has disclosed their full financial position, with supporting documentation. The judge may also give directions as to any other documents that must be filed, such as the valuation of a property.
If full disclosures have been made, the hearing may be converted into a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing (FDR).
At this stage, the court cannot make a financial order without both partners’ consent. If the financial arrangements cannot be settled, a court order will be made at a final hearing. The order is binding on both parties, subject to their being open and transparent about their finances.
The court can make a number of orders relating to financial matters, which may include maintenance for a partner and/or children, a lump sum for a partner and/or children, a property adjustment or transfer of property order (such as selling the matrimonial home or putting it into one person’s name) or giving either partner a share of the other person’s pension fund.