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It can sometimes be that one party in divorce proceedings, upon reflection, feels dissatisfied with the final financial order. Even when the settlement has been reached by consent. But reopening a case is never something to embark on lightly. That’s because the courts in England and Wales put a premium on the principle of finality in divorce proceedings. The view is that it’s in the couple’s interest to be able to get on with their lives without the fear of being brought back to court on financial matters. From a more general public policy perspective as well, courts do not encourage any weakening of financial orders.

Having said that, if the circumstances are right it may be possible to successfully challenge the terms of your financial settlement. But remember, ways to do so are extremely limited in scope and you should seek specialist advice before taking any action.

 

Have Intervening Events Undermined The Original Order?

Sometimes an event of such significance occurs after the financial order is made that the whole basis on which it was reached is changed completely. We have to go back to 1987 and the case of Barder v Barder to see quite how significant such an event needs to be.

In that case, the court made an order transferring a property to Mrs. Barder based on her and her children’s need for a home for an indefinite period. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Barder tragically killed her children and committed suicide. Her former husband successfully overturned the transfer of the home given the changed circumstances.

In Barder the court set out four guidelines for courts to apply when deciding whether or not a financial settlement can be altered. These were:

  1. Something occurs after the order that invalidates the assumptions on which it was made
  2. The intervening event should be within a short period of time from the original order
  3. The party wishing to change the order must apply to court as soon as possible after the event occurs
  4. Any change to the order should not adversely affect a third party who has acquired property included in the order in good faith

So the tests are big obstacles to overcome when seeking to change a financial order based on some intervening event. Cases decided since Barder have demonstrated this with judges confirming that it will be a rare case that comes within the Barder principles. For example following the banking crisis on 2007 many people sought to reopen their financial settlements because the value of share portfolios and other property had plummeted. They argued that the downturn in their fortunes meant they could no longer afford the financial settlement determined by the court. But judges repeatedly decided that fluctuations in shares or house prices are not a sufficient reason to reopen a settlement. In one case City tycoon Bryan Myerson failed to change a £9 million divorce settlement with his ex-wife on the grounds that market fluctuations since the settlement had wiped out most of his wealth.

 

What If My Ex Hid Some Assets?

During the divorce process you are required to fully disclose all your assets. If one party fails to do so – innocently or fraudulently – the basis of any financial settlement might be fundamentally flawed. In the separate cases of Sharland and Gohil two wives successfully applied to have their financial settlements reopened because their husbands misrepresented the extent of their wealth during financial negotiations. The cases show the dangers for a party to divorce who is not completely transparent in relation to financial matters.

 

Consider An Appeal

Financial orders can be appealed like any other court order. Because of the desire for finality mentioned above however you must first convince the court that there is a real chance your appeal will be successful or that you have another compelling reason to bring an appeal.

Whatever route you think is best to challenge a financial order the legal hurdles involved mean it’s crucial to get specialist advice at an early stage. If you would like to discuss your circumstances with us please call us on +44 (0) 20 7430 8470.

If I’m Not Happy With My Divorce Outcome, Can I Go Back To Court?

Date: June 15th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  It can sometimes be that one party in divorce proceedings, upon reflection, feels dissatisfied with the final financial order. Even when the settlement has been reached by consent. But reopening a case is never something to embark on lightly. That’s because the courts in England and Wales put a premium on the principle of… Read the full article

What Is No-Fault Divorce?

Date: June 12th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  No-fault divorce means a couple can obtain a divorce without one of them having to prove the other party is to blame for the breakdown of the marriage. The simple assertion of irreconcilable differences is sufficient for the court to grant a decree of divorce.   Can I Get A No-Fault Divorce In England?… Read the full article

Can My Spouse Take The Children To A New Location Away From Me?

Date: May 18th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  We understand the fear and panic you may feel if your spouse threatens to move away with your children. You do have legal options available to you so it is always useful to seek legal advice at an early stage. At Brookman in London we deal with this issue regularly. Usually in one of… Read the full article

Can I Use Legal Aid For My Divorce?

Date: May 15th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  In recent years the government has placed significant restrictions on the availability of legal aid in family law cases, including divorce. Although there is limited financial assistance available for couples embarking on mediation this is subject to a means test. You can check whether you qualify for legal aid on the government’s website.  … Read the full article

If I Transfer Assets To A Family Member Before Or During Divorce, Could Those Assets Be Included In The Financial Settlement?

Date: May 10th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  The short answer is yes – they could. There is an obligation on both parties in a divorce to disclose assets fully and frankly. And courts need marital property to be preserved until it reaches a final decision that is fair to both sides. Transfers of assets to family members or third parties before… Read the full article

What happens to my pension if I divorce?

Date: March 23rd, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  Your pension is an asset just like any other. During divorce you must disclose it on Form E along with all your property, including savings, shares and other assets. The starting point for pension division is the same as with other property – that’s 50/50 between spouses. But the reality is that the final… Read the full article

Can I divorce a spouse who is not in the country?

Date: March 19th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  You can issue divorce proceedings against a spouse who is not in the country if: The courts here have jurisdiction to accept your petition and There are appropriate grounds for divorce International or ‘ex pat’ divorces like this sometimes raise complex issues about property division, maintenance and the care of any children. It’s therefore… Read the full article

Are prenups binding in the UK?

Date: March 15th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  If a prenuptial agreement is fair it’s likely that the courts in England and Wales will recognise it as binding on the parties. Of course there is continued debate over what constitutes fairness in the context of an agreement like this. As a result the precise legal status of prenups is still to some… Read the full article

Divorce lawyer reviews

Date: January 23rd, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  All solicitors undergo rigorous training. This gives you a degree of reassurance when searching for the right divorce solicitor. In addition the Solicitors Regulation Authority monitors professional conduct and all solicitors are required to hold professional indemnity insurance. So if something goes wrong with your legal representation there are ways to rectify matters. This… Read the full article

What are the benefits of a free consultation?

Date: January 19th, 2018 - Written by: Brookman Solicitors

  Solicitors frequently offer free consultations – either by phone or in person. For individuals confronting family law issues, including separation and divorce these appointments offer real benefits. If you are looking for a family or divorce lawyer a free consultation could be the first step towards finding a solicitor you can trust and rely… Read the full article


Google Reviews

Brookman Solicitors

70 Reviews

Yesima Hamid 04/09/2020

I want to highly commend Brookman Solicitors firm. I had the privilege of getting very thorough and sensible advice from their solicitor Jennifer Douglas. I don't have enough praise for her. She made me feel at ease and 'got me' and understood very well all the issues and her advice was on point. I felt she had my interest at heart in all the different matters. She was very accommodating and willing. She truly made a difference. She has great insight and I truly recommend her and the firm. They are very professional with the human touch.

Roohie Mahajan 16/08/2020

I am so happy that I hired their services. I am from India and it was my international divorce case. My ex husband is in the UK. I had a free telephone conversation with Henry Brookman and I was so satisfied that without even meeting him I was so confident. My case was handled in the best way possible.

He is probably the one of the best lawyers in the world. He is extremely competent, professional, intelligent and empathetic. The only lawyer who genuinely work to help you rather than making money. He is a very experienced lawyer and he saved me so much money. He is so calm and kind towards his approach. He is the most genuine person I have come across.

I just came to London once to attend my hearing. My husband and his solicitors made it so complicated. My ex husband has to spend double the amount of legal fees than me. This is the difference between hiring a good experienced lawyer. Their fees might be expensive but good lawyer will make you save money at the end. Finally at the end I won the case and my husband has to pay all my legal fees without me travelling to the UK. I will always be eternally grateful to Henry Brookman and Brookman Solicitors. I am falling short of words to praise them.

I highly recommend their services. Keep up the good work.

Jen Ade 23/07/2020

I had an initial consultation and Henry was well prepared. He gave great advice and followed through quite quickly. He was very helpful.

Chris Mullins 15/07/2020

Henry and team were most professional, considerate and efficient when handling the financial proceedings owing to my overseas divorce. I recommend their services highly. International circumstance was at first to me most daunting and confusing, given each country had its' own unique approach. Thankfully Henry was knowledgeable of the law on either side of the seas and able therefore to provide best guidance and reasoning to me which enabled favourable settlement!

Wim Jansen 24/06/2020

I contacted Brookman to ask for information regarding the validity of an international divorce court ruling. They were very quick in providing me with the right information. When I had another question a few months later around children matters I phoned them again and after taking some background information and contact details they booked me in for a free telephone consultation with 1 of their partners Talitha Brookman. She spent half an hour of her time explaining to me what I could expect and provided legal advice. All was free of charge. I would not hesitate to contact them again should any matter become more formal and have to go through court. The service has been quick, professional and very friendly.