The Family Justice Council has just published a new free online resource called ‘Guidance on “Financial Needs” on Divorce’. Although it’s intended primarily for family court judges, it sets out a lot of helpful information about how finances are dealt with by the Court.
The guidance is mainly concerned with what are known as ‘needs–based’ cases. These are cases where the available assets don’t exceed the parties’ financial needs when they get divorced, or where a civil partnership is dissolved.
The Family Justice Council recently published a free online guide about how the Family Court approaches financial needs on divorce. It’s particularly aimed at people who don’t have solicitors, and are representing themselves, but is also helpful for anyone undertaking mediation. The guide’s received good reviews, although an article in Family Law Week makes one or two technical comments about the content, so is also worth reading.
‘Sorting out Separation‘ is part of the Government’s Help and Support for Separated Families initiative. It’s a free online service for parents and couples going through divorce or separation. The website has lots of help about mediation and legal issues, and a navigation tool so you can find personalised information relevant to your own situation.
If you’re going through divorce proceedings, it’s important to know that the divorce petition process alone doesn’t deal with your property and finance issues. You’ll need to apply separately for a financial order, even if there isn’t a property or much money involved. The Government has recently published some guidance about how to go about this.
If you’ve reached a settlement through mediation, you’ll still need a consent financial order to make your proposals legally binding.
I’ve been spending a little time looking at the advice sites available for separating or divorcing couples. In the limited sessions that mediation provides, mediators never have time to give all the relevant information, and so we rely on redirecting clients to “signposting” services.
Some of these aren’t actually too bad. Take Advice Now; it has free downloadable guides and links to a whole load of resources which might come in handy, for all sorts of different people. It’s also not too difficult to navigate — compared to some others, which I won’t name here — and so strikes the right balance between being user-friendly and comprehensive.
However, even though Advice Now has some benefits, and I would recommend it to other mediators, the issue around “signposting” isn’t being resolved. There isn’t anywhere that you can get specific advice without sitting down and talking to someone about your case. Many clients, armed with that most dangerous of things — a little information — can be given the wrong impression about their rights or obligations from these services.
In the end, the answer to this may well be that these signposting sites are forced to develop more tailored models of online advice, where the risk of over-simplifying or misunderstanding clients’ cases is minimised. While we’re waiting for that to happen, sites like Advice Now shouldn’t be underestimated — both in terms of their potential benefits for the discerning user, and the pitfalls for those who use them unwisely.
A rehearing has just been ordered in divorce financial remedy proceedings. This is what’s known as a “small money” case; the matrimonial assets are just under £300,000, even though the parties’ collective costs are already £127,538. Ordering the rehearing on capital and periodical payments, the judge also said, “…this is a case that cries out for mediation. I would strongly recommend to both parties that they either arbitrate on their differences, or mediate”.
Filling in your Financial Statement (Form E) in divorce proceedings can be daunting, even if you don’t have a lot of money, or other assets. The Family Justice Council has just launched a new video to help you with this, available online on the Advice Now website, where there is also written guidance on how to fill in Form E.
The video is free to view, and gives lots of practical information about how to complete Form E. However, this help is not the same as legal advice. It’s always best to see a family solicitor if you’re divorcing, so that you can get specific advice about your individual circumstances.