What Are Financial Orders?

This area of law is covered in Part 9 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, where it refers to proceedings for a “financial remedy” (previously known as “ancillary relief”). Financial orders are those which decide how to distribute the assets of a partnership or marriage. Orders can be applied for under several different Acts, including the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and the Children Act 1989.

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Which Financial Order Do You Need?

What types of Financial Orders are available?

There are a large number of different financial orders which can be applied for. The types of Orders available generally fall into 2 categories, namely income and capital Orders.

  • Income Orders deal with periodical payments (previously known as “maintenance payments”) and include the power to Order maintenance while the matter is ongoing and for any maintenance to be secured to ensure payment.
  • Capital Orders include the power to Order payment of lump sums, transfer ownership of property or require this to be sold, and to deal with pensions.

How will the Court decide on distributing the assets?

This is a balancing exercise where the following criteria have to be considered:

  • The objective is to achieve a "fair outcome" between the parties taking into account needs, compensation and sharing. Sometimes this requires one or other party to continue to financially support the other and/or not to receive any capital until the children have grown up and their home can be sold.
  • Generally the determining factor will be the parties' resources, income and capital. The first consideration is to ensure any children have a roof over their heads. Where finances are limited needs may also be split out into essential needs and other needs. The essential needs are then treated with greater weight.
  • A new partner or spouse does not automatically adopt financial responsibilities for the family of the other person. However, their contribution to the outgoings is usually regarded as freeing up further income to be redistributed. Conversely a new partner/spouse and/or children may increase a party's financial responsibilities.
  • The Court is only required to take into account the length of marriage, but can take account of the overall length of time the parties lived together.

Will the Court consider a Clean Break?

When looking at the financial issues the Court is obliged to consider whether a clean break would be appropriate to bring the parties' financial responsibility towards each other to an end. A clean break is not prevented between the parties, despite the fact that there are children, although it is common to keep a nominal ongoing maintenance obligation in place to allow the matter to go back to Court in future if required.

When are financial matters finalised?

Unless and until the Court gives an Order dealing with the financial issues nothing is finalised. Even then, certain aspects of matters may remain open, particularly where it is a long marriage/civil partnership or there are children involved. Should you agree a financial settlement in the meantime this is something the Court will have regard to, but it is not binding. Should your financial position have improved in the meantime then the Court is entitled to take this into account.

An order dealing with the finances is not normally granted prior to Decree Absolute/Final Order, as the marriage/partnership needs to be over to finalise the financial issues. Where agreement is reached before this, it will usually have to wait on the Decree Absolute/Final Order. The Court does have some powers to make Orders in the meantime.

What should you do next?

If you have tried to go it alone to obtain a financial order and are now struggling to deal with the complexity and protocols required, contact us now on 01935 823883 to see how we can help you work your way through the process. We can do as much or as little as you need and do not need to go on record as acting for you, but merely work in the background to ensure you apply for all the necessary orders and follow the correct court process. We are here to help you.

For advice on financial orders call us on 01935 823883