f) Pensions Orders
The Court has power to adjust pension shares. It is increasingly common for couples to be divorced and to find that their largest asset apart from their home is the value of a pension which has been accumulated, often by the husband. Until recent changes in legislation it has been very difficult for orders to be made concerning pensions and usually the wife was compensated in some other way (by a lump sum order) for the loss of her husband’s pensions. Now the Courts have power to split pensions, even if they are in payment at the time of the divorce. Pension division is a very complex field and requires expert advice, often from actuaries. It becomes particularly difficult if there is a marked difference in age or life expectancy between the husband and the wife, in these circumstances calculating the fairest division of a pension is a complex exercise.
g) Clean Break:
Often couples wish to end their financial dependence upon each other. This sometimes results in an order or agreement providing a number of remedies known as “clean breaks”. We can advise whether this would be desirable and help achieve this.
In general terms the aim of the Court in relation to all the above financial orders is to ensure fairness between the parties, often fairness will equal equality but not always. There are many occasions when equality is not considered the fairest way of dividing family assets.
2. The above provisions all apply in relation to orders between spouses. In relation to children there are orders which are similar. The parent having care of the children is entitled to apply to the Court for the following orders:-
- A Periodical Payments Order
- A Secure Provision Order
- A Lump Sum Order
- A Property Adjustment Order
In each case the orders are as described above. In most cases, however, the capital split is between the spouses and the financial provision for children is limited to income payments. It should also be borne in mind that the issue of children’s maintenance has been largely taken out of the hands of the Court by the operation of the child support legislation (See separate briefing not) and the Courts will only intervene in certain limited circumstances.
Injunctions (Court Orders) can be obtained to preserve assets, prevent their disposal or set aside transactions already made.
4. The process of claiming financial support through the Courts is quite time-consuming and complex. It very often takes much longer than the divorce proceedings themselves, the case can often take a year to resolve. The financial claims do not have to be settled before the divorce is concluded but quite often Decree Absolute of divorce is not granted until all financial issues have been resolved.