Families and divorce

What is a settlement agreement in divorce?

Middle aged couple arguing over their divorce

A settlement agreement, also known as a financial settlement, is likely to be the final stage in your divorce process and marks the point at which both of you have agreed on how to separate your finances and are ready to move on with your lives.

How do you reach a financial agreement?

You will need to decide how to split your assets. These are your money, property, savings and investments. If you originally put a pre-nuptial agreement in place when you got married, you will be able to agree on the division of assets between yourselves. However, you might need the help of a mediator or a divorce solicitor. If you still can’t agree, you can ask a court to decide.

Is a divorce settlement legally binding?

Once you have agreed on how you are going to divide your assets, you should ask your solicitor to draft a Consent Order, which will detail your financial settlement and your current financial positions. These papers go before a judge and, if deemed acceptable, they will approve the order.  The order becomes legally binding once your Decree Absolute has been granted in your divorce.

With a Consent Order in place, your settlement should not be affected if either you or your former partner remarries or cohabits.  However, if you are paying or receiving maintenance, you might need to reapply to the court to reflect your new position.

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How long does a divorce settlement take?

Once you have reached a financial agreement, it is possible to obtain your Consent Order and Decree Absolute within six months.  If you have not come to an agreement or if your finances are particularly complicated, it could take up to two years.

Can you appeal a divorce settlement?

If you believe that your former partner has concealed some of their assets during the settlement process, you can appeal.  You may also need to appeal if you feel the judge clearly made a wrong decision.  Be prepared - appeals generally take a long time to be heard.

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