Financial Settlement In A Divorce

Agreeing a Divorce Financial Settlement

A financial settlement in the context of a divorce sets out how assets including money, property and possessions are shared at the end of a marriage or civil partnership

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  • “A family team that is able to offer the highest level of expertise across the family law spectrum from high-net-worth finances through to care proceedings and children matters.”

What is a financial settlement in divorce?

A financial settlement, officially known as a financial settlement agreement, is an arrangement between two adults who have agreed to legally separate. It is required when divorcing couples have a number of joint financial assets. The divorce settlement is a fair and equal agreement on splitting the assets. The following assets are included when calculating the financial settlement:

  • the family home and any other property
  • savings, investments and trusts
  • joint bank accounts
  • vehicles
  • jointly owned business assets
  • pensions

It also covers how you’ll repay any debts and organise any child maintenance or spousal maintenance payments.

How is a financial settlement calculated?

Guidelines for calculating divorce settlements are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. In order to reach a fair settlement both you and your spouse will need to provide details of all your assets. This must be ‘full and frank’ and include all assets held in your sole name as well as jointly together or with any third party.  Attempting to hide or conceal assets is not recommended.

Once this information has been exchanged, our lawyers will advise you on your entitlements, and you can evaluate your options.  These include:

  • Agreeing to a split directly with your former spouse;
  • Attending mediation to reach an agreement;
  • Partaking in arbitration; or 
  • Allowing one of our expert lawyers to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. 

If a settlement cannot be achieved in one of these ways, then we will discuss your court options.

What is a typical divorce settlement?

No two divorces or divorce finances are the same, however, there are common aspects that need to be addressed in a typical divorce settlement in order to determine how your assets will be split. These include both couples’:

  • Assets
  • Income and future earning capacity
  • Their financial needs
  • Standards of living and expenses
  • Their age
  • Physical or mental disabilities
  • Significant contributions towards assets
  • The conduct of each party during the divorce process
  • Children

Whatever the extent of your wealth, you will need an expert divorce lawyer with the appropriate financial acumen to protect your interests.

How is property divided following divorce?

The division of a marital home in a divorce can be a complex issue. In England and Wales, the starting point for the division of assets is equality, but this may be subject to certain exceptions. The court will consider a variety of factors, such as the financial needs and contributions of each spouse, the welfare of any children, and any other relevant circumstances. Find out more.

How are pensions split in a divorce?

There are three ways in which pensions can be divided upon divorce: pension sharing, offsetting and pension attachment/earmarking. A good starting point for clients who have initiated divorce proceedings or are planning to is to gather full and up-to-date valuations of all the pensions they and their partner have. Find out more.

Do I need a financial settlement agreement?

Even if you have reached a verbal agreement with your spouse, we strongly recommend that you obtain a financial settlement agreement to protect you and your family in the long term and to ensure the fair division of all assets.  This is called a Financial Remedy Order. It is a legally binding ‘watertight’ financial settlement – agreed consensually and put before the Court for approval. If the case is contested the Court can impose the order.

There have been many cases where, years after they have divorced, applicants have been successful in making a financial claim against their former spouse. A settlement agreement will protect your interests now and will protect you from your spouse making a claim over any future inheritance, assets or windfall.

How long does a divorce financial settlement take?

A financial settlement on divorce usually takes between 9–12 months.

How we can help with your divorce financial settlement?

Each family is unique and at your initial consultation, we will discuss your circumstances, and identify what is most important to you and your desired outcome.  

We will advise you on the law and how best to achieve the outcomes you seek. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, we will need to review this. 

The breadth of experience in our team means that we offer the full range of options to obtain your divorce settlement, including:

  • Mediation
  • Collaborative law
  • Arbitration
  • Central Family Court, High Court, County Court, Supreme Court
  • Private FDRs
  • Lawyer led negotiations

Whatever forum you choose, you can rest assured that we will negotiate vigorously on your behalf.  If the divorce does proceed to court, our highly skilled advocates will represent you robustly and we have a track record of excellent results for our clients.

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    • "Osbornes have been a sound firm forever. They have phenomenal work."

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    • "Osbornes Law have a very broad family practice which does all areas of family law at a high level. They have an excellent practice; they are top quality across the board."

      CHAMBERS UK 2023

    • Lisa Pepper is particularly recognised for her role as a mediator in complex cross-border disputes. Her practice also includes handling prenuptial agreements and issues arising from divorces. She is additionally skilled in Schedule 1 and other child arrangement matters.

      Chambers UK 2023

    • Mark Freedman frequently takes on high-value financial and children proceedings that involve complex tax, trust and accounting issues.

      Chambers UK 2023

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    • "A family team that is able to offer the highest level of expertise across the family law spectrum from high-net-worth finances through to care proceedings and children matters."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Andrew Watson is respected and tenacious in matrimonial finance. You would want him on your team."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "David Leadercrammer is such an experienced wonderful lawyer who you would want on the other side of your case. He’s sensible, pragmatic and hugely experienced in money and children cases."

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    • They have high-end partners doing high-end work. They are very impressive.

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      Chambers HNW 2022

    • Osbornes have a very broad family practice which does all areas of family law at a high level.

      Chambers HNW 2022

    • He is very hard-working, diligent and thoughtful in his approach. He is on top of the detail and makes strategic decisions.

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    • Mark is an immensely capable lawyer, with vast experience and a well-deserved reputation for getting the very best for his clients.

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    • Lisa Pepper is extremely hard-working and adored by her clients. She is a very empathetic and approachable lawyer.

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    • She’s an extremely supportive and kind lawyer and has an increasing mediation profile too

      Chambers HNW 2022

    • "Mark Freedman is intelligent and personable and has a good selection of high-net work cases".

      Chambers UK

    • Andrew secured me the best financial settlement for my claim. He is a credit to Osbornes Solicitors.

      Family Department Client

    • "Lisa Pepper was recommended to me as non-nonsense and able to help me with a difficult and confrontational divorce. She more than lived up to that – she was practical, collected and always available with a clear opinion and suggestions of how to move forwards. She also was open and helpful about costs and how to mitigate them"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "It has a strong and experienced team of solicitors who don’t take bad points, work sensibly to get a settlement and who you can always pick up the phone and speak to. They are good lawyers and know the strengths and weaknesses of their clients’ cases. They don’t posture and always pursue their clients cases appropriately. "

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Mark Freedman is a very capable lawyer, renowned for not being a pushover and pushing his clients’ cases as much as he can, but will always talk sensibly about settlement. He is among the best – tenacious, good judgment and tactically aware."

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Mark Freedman is a dynamic and highly experienced family lawyer who fights extremely hard for his clients and is always in their corner, thus ensuring their loyalty and confidence. In a trial you would always want him on your side."

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Bridget Thompson combines her excellent legal knowledge with a clear, succinct and robust style of advice and advocacy. Her approach clearly inspires a high degree of client confidence in her"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "She has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."

    • "Her mediation practice is exceptional; she is also a great solicitor and has a breadth of skill which is really useful."

      Chambers UK 2021

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    • "Jo Wescott is top notch and widely recognised as a rising star throughout the profession. She brings a winning combination of great judgement, an immense work ethic, and a relaxed and charming way with opponents and clients alike. Someone you want on your side”

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Osbornes is pre-eminent for family law in North London. Mark Freedman is a real rainmaker. He is an excellent lawyer and has a top-notch practice"

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    • Mark Freedman is a serious player. A fearless family law litigator, who protects his clients’ interests passionately.

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    • Breadth of knowledge and willingness to go the extra mile is what makes it stand out. Mark Freedman – devoted to his clients

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    • Mark Freedman frequently takes on high-value financial and children proceedings that involve complex tax, trust and accounting issues. Sources praise the "tenacity and common sense" he brings to challenging disputes.

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    • "Mark Freedman has a specific focus on high-net-worth divorces and finance cases where there are overseas assets and trusts."

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    • "Lisa Pepper somehow manages to get parties to settle on matters where there isn’t much hope to start out with."

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    • "Well-regarded family practice assisting clients with substantial matrimonial disputes and sensitive children proceedings."

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    • "Mark Freedman draws acclaim for his work in high net worth divorce cases, including those involving company structures, family trusts and overseas assets."

      Chambers UK 2019

    • "He never gives up. He fights for you to the end and has boundless energy."

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      Legal 500

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      Legal 500

    • Highly regarded for his experience as a litigation and mediation expertise, Mark Freedman is tenacious and determined. Clients really feel that he is fighting their corner.

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    • Andrew handled a very complex, 3 year legal battle for me, with a tremendous amount of patience and professionalism. He is very approachable, always kept me up to date, by phone and e-mail, and responded very quickly to my queries with excellent advice, sound strategic thinking and strong letters to put the other side under pressure. With top contacts for barristers, joint experts and mediation.

      Family Department Client

    • [The Family Law department] handles significant matrimonial finance cases and complex nuptial agreements. Respected for its expertise in cross-border children law matters.

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