Orders the court can make

A divorce financial settlement can include orders for spousal and child maintenance, transfers or sale of the family home or other assets, lump sum payments and pension sharing.

The court has the power to make a range of orders when dealing finances on a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. These fall into three main categories - capital orders, maintenance and pension sharing. Some divorces will involve all three. Every case is different and deciding which type of order is needed and how the various options interact is key to achieving a fair outcome.

The orders that deal with capital are: 

  • property transfer orders - these transfer property (including houses, cars and shares) from one person to another or from joint ownership to sole ownership.  Sometimes, the recipient of the property needs to make a corresponding cash payment to the person "giving up" ownership
  • sale of property orders - the court can order property to be sold and the sale proceeds to be divided in a certain way
  • lump sum orders - these are cash payments.  Often they are used to balance out the division of other assets. Payment will often be a one-off but in some cases can be by instalments.   Lump sum payments can also be made to "clean break" monthly maintenance payments 

The orders that deal with income are: 

  • child maintenance orders
  • spousal maintenance orders - these are usually monthly payments that are calculated with reference to the needs of the recipient and the means of the payer.  Maintenance will be usually be ordered where one person's income is not enough to meet their normal, daily expenditure

Pension sharing orders can't really be classed as either income or capital orders because pensions are a specific type of asset with their own separate rules on how they can be drawn. They can be very valuable even for couples whose other assets or income may be relatively modest. The court can split UK pensions in any percentage to help ensure that a couple is fairly provided for in retirement.

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