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Family

Family

FAMILY

Our aim is to adopt a collaborative approach towards the problems faced when there is a family breakdown, especially in the interest of children and other vulnerable people affected.

We specialize in divorce settlements in middle-value cases, ie to determine the division of up to £1 million family assets.

The starting point is equality. We also look carefully at what both parties have put into the marriage and what they and the children need for the future. However where the marriage has been short both parties should get out of the marriage what they have respectively put in. Matching needs and contributions is our primary task.

Guideline Costs-divorce

  • Uncontested divorce(no children) – £550
  • Uncontested divorce (children) – £750
  • Uncontested divorce(financial matters agreed and recorded) – £1100
  • Financial settlement, resolved at First Appointment – £3250
  • Financial settlement, resolved at Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing – £5900
  • Preparing pre-nuptial agreement – £375

The above costs guidelines exclude VAT and Court fees The fees assume no greatly contested valuation evidence and exclude property/share or other valuations. Where clients are in receipt of certain passported benefits there may be an exemption from Court fees.

FINANCIAL SETTLEMENT

Financial Matters Around Marriage

The general rule in any financial settlement is that all family assets are shared equally. However we have to look as well at both parties’ needs for the future and in particular the children’s need for a proper home and standard of living.

In a short marriage case both parties should get back what they put into the marriage and any ‘profits’ during the course of marriage should be shared. This principle applies where needs for the future are similar.

At Eagles we are committed to adopting an approach that will produce resolution at the earliest stage and in particular we:

  1. Consider meetings with the other solicitors with a view to narrowing the issues or at best achieving a settlement.
  2. Try mediation. This is a process whereby husband and wife meet with a solicitor mediator who will try to empower the parties to reach an agreement. Generally the success rate is over 70% and usually a solution is found over 5 or 6 mediation sessions.
  3. Strip away all other negative feelings and arguments that your husband/wife has behaved badly. Concentrate on the financial enquiry.
  4. Encourage you to carry out much of the preparation. There is no need to incur costs of our carrying out valuations of assets if you can deal with that yourself (with our guidance)
  5. Simplify the issues. It generally is not worthwhile or productive to investigate which party paid for which household bill or holiday.

We will use endeavour to take every opportunity to settle matters for you amicably. However negotiations must not drag on. Often it is much quicker to take your dispute to Court when one party is allowing emotion to color judgment or is ‘burying his/her head in the sand’.

Going to Court is an option to take when other avenues have been explored but without success. It is a process whereby the District Judge decides (or more often helps the parties to decide) what a fair and reasonable settlement will be, given the respective contributions by the parties and their needs for the future. It is rare for any enquiry to look at or criticise the way either party has behaved during the marriage and therefore for blame to be apportioned. The exception will be where there is financial conduct eg one party is deliberately hiding their assets.

Once an application is issued the Court fixes a date for the parties and their advisers to meet the District Judge in her/his private room. This is called the First Appointment and generally this takes place 10 to 12 weeks after the application is made. Before the appointment both parties are told to exchange detailed financial statements identify the issues in dispute and the documents that the other side may need to produce. At the First Appointment the District Judge is frequently invited to ‘think out loud’ on what an appropriate settlement may be. The District Judge cannot impose a settlement on an unwilling party although the Judge may make robust comments on how counterproductive it will be for one party to advance a particular argument or carry out an investigation.

If the First Appointment fails to achieve a settlement then the Court relists for a Financial Dispute Resolution ( FDR) hearing. Directions are given with a view to narrowing the remaining areas of dispute. The FDR hearing usually takes place within 3 months of the First Appointment. The Court sets aside sufficient time to assist the parties and their representatives to achieve a settlement. Usually over 80% of disputes are resolved by the FDR stage. Only a minority of cases proceed to trial.

Resolution of financial matters includes dealing with maintenance, financial support for children, property transfer orders, lump sum orders, pension sharing orders and other arrangements, as well as injunctions to prevent the disposal of assets.

When we first meet you we will be happy to give an overall view of suitable financial provision. Indeed we would encourage you to try and reach a settlement with your spouse with guidance from us. However, it is important to take advice before entering into any agreement and therefore please check with us first before responding to proposals.

It is very helpful if you could set out the financial history of the relationship in as much detail as possible and in particular, the contributions made.

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