It is often the negotiations around divorce financial settlements which can cause most upset and confusion. Invariably it is this subject that leads to the greatest disputes.
If possible, all parties to a divorce should strive to reach an amicable financial settlement. Where the parties are able to reach a consensus of opinion then Parslows Jersey can assist you in drawing up a consent order detailing the agreement made.
Once the Consent Order has been signed and it is agreed with the Royal Court, it will be a legally binding document and means that no further financial claims can be brought by either party. Parslows Jersey can advise on the terms of such an agreement in relation to divorce financial settlements and the drafting of the Consent Order for you.
Despite the best intentions of both parties, sometimes it is not possible to reach an amicable agreement. In such circumstances, it is still possible to avoid a court hearing by mediation to obtain financial relief.
In such circumstance, Parslows Jersey would always suggest that you and your spouse consider mediation. A mediator is independent and impartial. The role of a mediator is not to give legal advice but instead to attempt to facilitate discussions between the parties, leading hopefully to an agreement.
Sometimes with all the best will in the world, where negotiation or mediation does not work, you will need a court hearing to help decide the issue. This will inevitably lead to a significant rise in how much the process will cost you both, so you should make every effort to agree a settlement before this stage. Parslows will advise you on your rights and what is reasonable. If you need to go to Court, they will also prepare all the documentation for your case.
When considering the likely outcome of divorce financial settlements, the following factors will be taken into account:-
A formal application (Form A) is filed with the Royal Court. This tells the Royal Court that you want it to decide how to divide the matrimonial assets.
The Royal Court will then issue a timetable to both parties requiring them to prepare and file certain documents. The most important of these is Form E. This is a financial and assets statement, which must be sworn. It includes full details of all personal assets anywhere in the world. In addition, both parties must obtain and file numerous other documents, such as bank statements, building society statements, tax documents, savings and investment documents, and credit card and loan statements.
Parslows Jersey will complete this for you, but you will need to provide all the necessary records.
The First Court Hearing
Approximately twelve weeks after filing the Form E, the first Royal Court hearing will be held. This is a fairly short hearing, where the Royal Court will want brief details from both sides as to what the case is about. They will then issue an Order for Directions, which tells the parties what they must do next and by what dates.
The judge will, for instance, direct that properties must be valued and that the valuer’s report must be filed at court, or that further bank statements must be obtained and filed.
The Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing
Around ten weeks later is the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing.
You must attend this informal hearing.
No actual evidence is given, and you will not be cross-examined by anyone. The judge will hear legal submissions from both parties’ lawyers.
This hearing will also give the parties a chance to reach common ground. If an agreement is reached, the lawyers will inform the judge, and provide them with full details of the terms of the settlement. The Royal Court will then draw up and issue an agreed final order. This is known as a Consent Order. It is an official court order and can be enforced if either party defaults.
If no agreement can be reached at the FDR hearing, the judge will order that the case must be listed for a full final hearing.
The Final Hearing
This hearing usually takes a whole day (sometimes two) and is formal. Both parties have to give evidence on oath, and are cross-examined by the other party’s Advocate. You may be asked at length about your personal and domestic circumstances, your financial affairs, your earning capacity, why you are not working (if you are not), what qualifications/work experience you have and your household bills. You can also be asked questions about any new partner and their finances.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will make a final order. It is an official court order and can be enforced if either party defaults.
Natalie Jenner | Partner | Divorce and Family law
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Parslows Jersey can help
The breakdown of human relationships can cause great stress, anxiety and problems. The process of separation and divorce is rarely easy.
Our aim is always to attempt to deal with divorce as painlessly as we can. While this cannot always be achieved – much depends on an individual client’s own requirements and the way in which the other party to the case proceeds – we will always attempt to seek such a course for you. We will look to solutions to solve any problems between the parties and not to add to the antagonism.
Our divorce lawyers are focused on providing you with expert advice with a truly personal service.
We advise on all aspects of family law: whether it be advice on divorce, dissolution of a partnership or financial settlements we can assist.
Our clients are pleased with our service and fees; we are confident you will be too.