Family Property

We can help you make sense of your finances after a relationship breakdown whether you are married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting with your partner.

Negotiated settlements can offer significant cost benefits.

If you are married or in a civil partnership then provided your divorce or dissolution proceedings are underway any agreement about family property can be backed up with a “consent order”, which is a court order that reflects your agreement and is only made with the approval of a Judge. Once approved, a consent order will have the force of law and so it can be relied on in the future.

In the case of any property, such as the former matrimonial home, savings, pensions, a financial portfolio or anything else of value that has been generated during your marriage or civil partnership, we can advise you and negotiate a settlement reflecting a fair division of the available assets.


Alternatively, we could refer you to a mediator. No agreement that you reach at mediation will be binding. Even if you are able to reach agreement you should still seek legal advice. We would advise you whether there were any changes that should be made to your agreement order to protect your interests.

Once your agreement is finalised, we can draft the consent order for the approval of the court.

Court Proceedings

Should mediation be unsuccessful or unsuitable for your case and if negotiation through solicitors doesn’t work then in the last resort you can start court proceedings for a financial order. We will represent you and you will still be free to negotiate a settlement at any time, subject to approval of its terms by a Judge. This will be a stressful time for you but we will be advising and supporting you throughout the court proceedings.

The court will impose a timetable on the parties in order to ensure progress of your case. Both parties will be given the same deadline to exchange their statement of financial disclosure, which we will complete with you. At an interim hearing, the court will give an indication of the sort of final order likely to be made if your case proceeded to a final hearing. Most cases settle within a few weeks of this. However, should your matter continue to a contested final hearing, the court will make the order that it considers fair when taking into account all the relevant circumstances and the current state of the law.

We will provide you with a written costs estimate before the start of court proceedings so there will be no unwelcome surprises along the way when it comes to your legal fees.

Separation agreements

A separation agreement is a legal agreement made between couples who are contemplating separation in the near future, or have already separated. Most couples entering into a separation agreement will be married or in a civil partnership but separation agreements are also suitable for unmarried couples. If you are thinking about a separation agreement you have probably decided that you want to end your relationship. The agreement usually sets out the agreed financial arrangements during the period of separation and some agreements also set out how the couple’s finances should be after a subsequent divorce or dissolution. Agreements about access and custody of your children can also be recorded.

The unmarried family – things are more difficult for unmarried couples. There is no such thing in law as a “common law marriage” and cohabiting couples do not enjoy the same rights and remedies as married couples when they separate. Legal advice is even more important and we can advise you on the strength of your claim to any assets generated during your relationship and the legal avenues open to you. See our cohabitation page for more details.

Pre-nups, Post-nups and civil partnerships

Pre-nuptial agreements – if you want to make an agreement with your intended spouse in order to safeguard the assets you bring to your marriage you should consider a pre-nuptial agreement. This is a legal agreement that sets out how you want your assets to be treated if you later separate or divorce. A pre-nuptial agreement can also record how you will arrange your finances during your marriage.

Post nuptial agreements – you may wish to consider this if you are married and you want an agreement that sets out how you want your property to be treated during your marriage or if you later separate or divorce. The difference is that whereas a separation agreement would be used if separation was imminent, if you enter into a post-nuptial agreement you would not usually wish or expect to separate in the near future. In fact, your post-nuptial agreements could record that you wish the marriage to continue. By contrast, a separation agreement is usually drafted when your relationship has broken down.

If you are planning to enter into a civil partnership you can also enter into a legal agreement before the registration of your civil partnership which will cover the same areas as a pre or post nuptial agreement and will have the same legal force. This is sometimes known as a pre civil partnership agreement or a pre registration agreement.

Call us for a fixed fee meeting

01403 788455

or for a free initial enquiry

Need Family Property advice?

Sussex Family Solicitors

Authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under SRA number 564643