In divorce, ancillary relief proceedings refer to the financial orders that can be sought when divorce proceedings begin.
There are three stages:
- the First Directions Appointment – a short hearing with the judge to discuss your application
- Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment – to help you agree without needing a final hearing (you might need more than one appointment) The judge will give an indication of how the parties should look to split their assets (you might need more than one appointment)
- Final Hearing – if you’re not able to agree, this is when a judge will decide how you must separate your finances. The judge from the FDR will not be able to conduct the hearing at the Final Hearing.
- Directions hearing – if additional issues come to light after the First Directions Appointment, one party may wish to put an application before the courts to address supplementary issues at a Directions hearing.
- Fact Finding hearing – In the instance that there is a factual dispute for example a third party claims an interest in a matrimonial asset, the court will decide whether there is a claim and if any, to what extent before they can progress the matter to a FDR hearing. The judge will decide on the balance of probability whether something did or did not happen.
The court will send you and your ex-partner details when the first appointment will be. This is usually 12 to 14 weeks after you apply.
Before the first appointment
You and your ex-partner need to fill in a financial statement for a financial order (Form E) to show a breakdown of your property and debts. This includes giving an estimate of your future living costs.
You’ll also need to collect documents about your finances, for example:
- rental or mortgage agreements
- pension documents
- loan agreements
- proof of your salary income, for example, P60 or recent pay slips
- details of personal belongings worth more than £500, for example, a car or house contents
How long it takes
It depends on:
- how many financial dispute resolution appointments you need
- if you need a final hearing
There can be several months between the appointments.
How the court decides
If you cannot agree, a judge will decide how assets will be split. They’ll base their decision on how long you’ve been married or in a civil partnership, as well as your:
- ability to earn
- property and money
- living expenses
- standard of living
- financial needs and responsibilities
- role in looking after the family, for example, if you were the main earner or caring for the family or home
- disability or health condition, if you have any
The judge will decide on the fairest way to divide the assets if there’s enough to meet everyone’s needs. They will make arrangements for any children first – especially their housing arrangements and child maintenance. The reason for the divorce or dissolution is not taken into account.
The judge will usually try to arrange a ‘clean break’, so everything is shared out, and you no longer have any financial ties to one another.
How much do ancillary relief proceedings cost?
The court fee is £275.
How much you pay for legal fees depends in total on how many hearings you need and if there will be a final hearing.
We are more than happy to look at the individuals’ circumstances and tailor a quote to your specific requirements.