Financial divorce orders – new statistics
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published the latest figures for financial orders made within divorce proceedings. The figures relate to the period July to September 2014.
There are three situations in which the court makes a financial order within divorce proceedings.
The first is when the parties have negotiated a settlement and jointly apply to the court for a financial order to be made by consent. The MoJ calls this ‘uncontested’.
The second is when one of the parties has made an application to the court for a financial order but the parties subsequently agree on a settlement and jointly apply to the court for a financial order to be made by consent. The MoJ calls this ‘initially contested’.
The third is when one of the parties has made an application to the court for a financial order, there is a First Appointment and then a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment but the parties still cannot reach agreement. There is then a final hearing at the end of which the judge decides what the financial arrangements are to be. The MoJ calls this ‘fully contested’.
Of the 10,206 financial orders made during the period in question, 63% were uncontested, 28% were initially contested and 9% were fully contested.
You can’t necessarily control which category you fall into if you get divorced, because your spouse may be determined not to settle the case. You may find yourself in a position where unless you are going to agree to a seriously disadvantageous settlement you are forced to take the case to a final hearing. Such cases are rare, as the figures show, 91% of all financial orders (63% + 28%) being made by consent.
Probably the strongest incentive to reach agreement is the truly appalling cost of a fully contested case – I normally warn a client at the beginning of a case that if it goes all the way to a final hearing the legal costs are likely to be between £10,000 and £20,000 on each side. There is virtually no chance of your spouse being ordered to make a contribution to your costs. With the risk of such eye-watering amounts of money going to the lawyers, it is hardly surprising that in most cases there is, at some point, an outbreak of common sense. The earlier that happens, the less it costs both parties.