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Family law, finances and needs

Family law, finances and needs

Most people contemplating divorce will initially think about when to separate from each other, swiftly followed by a “How am I going to live?”.

As we all know one pot of money which can meet the needs of two people living together in one household is unlikely (in most circumstances) to stretch well to meet two households.

That’s where a good solicitor comes in. Whilst often thoughts are with divorce “I’m going to take everything” or “I’m going to have nothing” the law in fact provides for both parties (regardless of how the marriage ended – although there are some very rare exceptions).

Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 is referred to by lawyers as “The Welfare Checklist” and this is something that the Court has to have regard to when looking at the financial settlement either agreed by a couple (or in the alternative ordered by the Court). This checklist requires all parties to consider the following:

  • Income and earning capacity of both parties;
  • Their needs and obligations (such as care of young children);
  • Standard of living;
  • Age of the parties and length of the marriage;
  • Health needs including disabilities;
  • Contributions by parties;
  • Conduct (in very rare circumstances);
  • Value lost by divorce (usually interests in pensions for example – ie. the loss of a future widow’s pension).


It may surprise people to know that the number of cases that go to a final hearing where the judge decides a settlement is in fact very few. The majority of cases will often settle, sometimes with help from a District Judge, with the aid of good and sensible solicitors and good preparation.

So, where do you go from here? The first thing to do is for the parties to exchange financial disclosure. This includes the value of any assets (such as property or savings and pensions), the amount of any debts (such as credit cards and loans). This is important as we need to know what there is before we can help advise how it can be divided between you.

We also advise clients to look at the housing market as to suitable properties for not just themselves but also their spouse. We look at all aspects of housing from, staying in the property and buying the spouse out of their interest, shared ownership (with a housing association), normal purchase of a home or renting.

The options are often limited by the amount of capital available to both parties and may be affected by whether there are children to rehouse with one party. This helps parties to be realistic about what should happen.

To be able to look at housing needs we also need to know your mortgage capacity and that of your spouse. The Court would consider a mortgage capacity to be an asset of sorts in that it assists the decisions on the division of capital from the marriage (i.e. if one spouse has a greater mortgage capacity then this may free up capital to help the other spouse with a lower mortgage capacity to be equally housed).

Pensions are generally shared between spouses on divorce (although where there is greater capital available it may be with agreement that there is an offsetting of pension interest by the payment of a greater share of capital).

As for income, a non-resident parent has a duty in law to pay maintenance for his children. This is based on a percentage of gross income. Parties can either reach agreement or if not then the question of maintenance will go through the Child Maintenance Service (formerly the CSA). For information on calculation of maintenance click here.

Depending in circumstances there may be a liability for maintenance to a spouse. This would be if there are young children or some disability or where there is a shortfall in their income versus their outgoings. If the spouse is in good health then a Court may limit the time for maintenance (for example to enable perhaps a spouse to retrain for employment) as the Courts are required under Section 25A of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to achieve a clean break at the earliest possible time.

If any of the above affects you, we offer a free initial meeting when we can consider your matter and advise on the way forward. For an appointment please ring the Family Team on 01202 877400 (Ferndown Office) or 01305 470051 (Weymouth Office).

Finding a Divorce Solicitor


I was asked a question recently about how to find a Divorce Solicitor? There are of course the obvious answers: Google Search, asking friends, looking on the Law Society or Resolutions “Find a Solicitor”, etc. However, finding the “right” divorce solicitor for you is entirely different. As a woman I would equate it almost to like finding the right pair of shoes … an odd analogy you may think but it’s all about the fit.

When advising on divorce and the subsequent financial settlement we are dealing not just with facts and figures but people’s lives and emotions and these can be a big factor in what they decide. A client recently came to me having obtained their divorce via an online web service. I asked them what had attracted them to the online service – their immediate reply was cost. However, this particular client hadn’t realised that they had only dealt with the divorce and several years after the divorce had been finalised they discovered that their ex-spouse was now pursuing a financial  settlement. The client had believed that this had been dealt with (all for a mere few hundred pounds) – sadly and unsurprisingly this was not the case.

With the aid of an experienced divorce solicitor, like ourselves,  the financial information can be rapidly gathered and we can facilitate the negotiating of a financial settlement on divorce that both parties can live with.  I should be clear that in family law, contrary to popular opinion, it’s not about winning or losing but about meeting needs and sharing.

Often, we find there is simply not enough money to go around and a good divorce solicitor will be able to “think outside the box” and help you explore other solutions. Equally the solicitor should look at meeting the needs of both parties, otherwise how can you persuade your spouse (or indeed the Court) that your proposal is the better one. Mediation is also an option that parties may wish to consider (which enables direct discussion between them). To help mediation work a good divorce solicitor will help with guidance on the provision of financial disclosures needed to enable direct discussions. A mediator can guide you on proposals, provide legal advice as the matter progresses and discuss ideas on the way forward to achieve a fair divorce settlement.   A good divorce solicitor can ultimately help with drafting up the Consent Order to reflect any agreement reached to ensure protection for your future.

At Newnham & Jordan we believe in dealing with divorce and financial settlement holistically and looking at how both parties can move forward.   We believe this approach helps parties to move forward, is practical and puts our client’s in the best position to reach a settlement swiftly with a saving both financially and emotionally.

To speak to us about your options please contact Fiona Pawsey on 01202877400 (Ferndown) or 01305 470051 (Weymouth) or via email on fiona@newnham-jordan.co.uk for a free initial appointment.

Finding a Divorce Solicitor
4 Countries With Strict Baby Naming Laws

4 Countries With Strict Baby Naming Laws

Naming Laws

Here in the UK you can almost name your baby anything (within reason), but did you know that some countries around the world have laws regarding the naming of new born babies. That’s why this Funny Law Friday we are taking a look at 4 countries with strict and interesting naming laws.


Germany is a very practical and forward thinking country, this also shows in their baby naming laws. When naming your child in Germany you must be able to tell the gender of the child by their first name, and then the name must also not have a negative effect on the wellbeing of the child. The First name must also not be a last name, an object or a product. The name you choose has to be approved by the Standesamt (German civil registration office). If the office rejects your chosen name you can appeal the decision. But if you lose the appeal a new will have to be chosen. Each time you submit a name you pay a fee, so it can get costly.


Denmark have a very strict law in place for personal names. This is to protect children from having odd names. Denmark have a list of 7,000 pre-approved names that parents can choose from. If the parents wish to name their child something that is not on the list. They will have to get special permission from their local church, and the name is then reviewed by governmental officials. Like Germany the law states that the first name must indicate the gender of the child, also the first name must not be a last name. There are also laws in place that to protect rare Danish last names.


In Sweden first names must be reported to the Tax Agency for approval. First names will not be approved if they can cause offense or can cause discomfort. it can also be rejected if it is not suitable as a first name. In Sweden you are allowed multiple first names, but if later in life you wish to change your first name you must keep at least one of your original first names. For example, if you were called Matt and you wanted to change your name to Luke, your new name would be Luke Matt. Also you can only change your name once.


Iceland have a naming committee which decide whether a given name will be acceptable. If parents wish to choose a name that is not on the National Register of Persons, they must apply for it to be approved. For a name to be approved it must pass a few tests. It must only contain letters in the Icelandic alphabet, and must also fit grammatically with the language. Other points are: it must not embarrass the child in the future, it must be gender specific and no more than 3 personal names are allowed.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.



Funny Law Friday


It was made in the 1920’s, when people believed that the citric acid in the orange would mix with the natural bath oils and would create a highly explosive mixture.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

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