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Negotiated settlements: Getting a Fair Deal

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When a marriage breaks down, it is understandable that the separating couple will want to resolve the issues which have arisen as a consequence of their split, such as divorce, arrangements for the children and the finances, as quickly as possible.

It is not uncommon for parties to talk to each other about what they want in terms of financial support, capital or pension provision going forward.  It is good to talk to your former partner and identify areas of agreement or issue. Such communication should be encouraged and can achieve an early settlement without the need for Court proceedings.

It is, however, important to ensure that if a financial settlement is reached, that it is based on each party having full knowledge of the other's financial circumstances.  Without it, you can never know whether the deal you have struck represents a fair settlement.

By way of an example, I recently settled a case where my client, the wife, had been offered £50,000 from the husband at the time of separation.  At that point, the offer was appealing to the wife as she wanted to get out of the marriage and move on with her life.  It seemed generous to her and she had considered accepting it.

The wife was advised to exchange financial information with the husband and then decide whether she still wanted to accept his offer.  The husband subsequently failed to comply with requests for financial information and Court proceedings were issued.

During the course of the next 18 months, the husband was found to have undisclosed assets in excess of £1.5million Unsurprisingly, the husband's original offer was no longer quite as appealing to the wife. 

As the final hearing loomed, he offered to pay the wife a substantially greater lump sum.  This time she accepted.

This was not an average case, but it demonstrates the importance of knowing what assets exist before you can agree how they are divided.  There may also be other issues to consider, such as whether one party needs to talk to a financial advisor before agreeing terms.  Could there be tax consequences arising from any settlement?  What about pensions?

In summary, direct negotiation should be encouraged and can be successful.  It is, however, pointless if the final agreement reached is unfair, fails to meet one party's needs or it cannot be enforced.

The family team at Clarion LLP are experts in guiding separating parties through the negotiation process.  Direct negotiation is, where appropriate, positively encouraged and our solicitors will work with you to achieve a settlement which enables you to move on with your life knowing you have had a fair deal.

If you would like an free informal chat with one of our family team about divorce, or any other aspect of family law, then please contact 0113 2223210.

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.