Financial settlements

Senior Adult Couple Going Over Papers In Their Home With AgentIf you have separated from your husband, wife or partner then you might need to think about different financial settlements. 

Any shared assets in a marriage or partnership, regardless of whose name they are in, will be divided between both parties. The same applies to any debts, unless one partner acquired the debts personally without any involvement or benefit to the other party. In this case the debt would remain with whoever was responsible for it

Personal settlements

If both parties are willing to agree on a fair settlement then an agreement can be negotiated without the involvement of a court order. It is important to consider:

  • value of any assets and property owned by either party, for example the family home
  • financial responsibilities of both parties and any outstanding debts or liabilities
  • contributions, financial or otherwise, of each spouse to the relationship during the marriage or partnership
  • the responsibility for any children involved and their requirements
  • ability to earn or access capital in the future, including any income, earning potential and pensions
  • personal circumstances

A judge must be provided with evidence that both parties understand and consent to a reasonable settlement. If there is insufficient evidence, parties may be required to attend court to settle the dispute.

It may still be helpful to involve a solicitor as the court must approve any settlements agreed upon personally. A solicitor can aid you in drawing up a consent order to be presented to the judge.

Court intervention

If a settlement cannot be agreed independently then the courts have the power to impose an order outlining the conditions of a separation. A judge will take into consideration all factors and try and conclude on an agreement that is fair for all parties. A judge will take into account:

  • each partner’s financial needs, including necessary spending and financial requirements of any children involved
  • each partner’s financial capital and their ability to make money in the future
  • the length of the marriage and the current ages of the partners involved
  • the contributions, financial or otherwise, of each spouse to their relationship during the marriage

An order represents a legal requirement from both parties, so when a court issues a settlement order the decision is final. For this reason it is vital to present a strong case in court and to have a clear knowledge of matrimonial property, assets, debts and liabilities.

Court orders

Maintenance for children

The requirements of any children involved are highly important and it may be necessary to enlist the help of the Child Support Agency. For more information on child support see our article on Child Maintenance.

Spousal maintenance

This form of maintenance may mean the more financially wealthy partner will assist the less wealthy partner by giving them regular payments. 

The court decides on the size of the payment after carefully considering the factors listed above (under Court Intervention). There is not a standard child maintenance rate that is charged, as each case depends on individual circumstances and will therefore be different.


Often the largest assets shared between separating couples is the family home. Each partner has a stake in the home. When separating, it is unlikely that partners will choose to continue to cohabit. The court has the power to issue an order outlining the sale or transfer of any property, and how the proceeds will consequently be divided.


If the pension arrangements were mainly made in one partner’s name then it can be necessary, after a separation, to make arrangements for the remaining partner. It is common for any pensions to be divided equally between the two partners.


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