There are a number of different options for resolving the financial and/or children arrangements and normally court proceedings should be considered as a last resort. In cases where a couple cannot agree the arrangements directly, they will need to consider alternative ways of resolving matters amicably including, mediation, collaborative law, arbitration and solicitor negotiation. In any event, with limited exceptions, it is now compulsory to consider mediation as a means of resolving any financial and/or children matters before court proceedings can be commenced.
It is not usually necessary for the financial and/or children arrangements to be agreed before the divorce is finalised. However, it is sometimes advisable to delay finalising the divorce (i.e. obtaining the decree absolute) until the financial arrangements have been settled and properly recorded. This normally occurs by way of the parties signing a document known as a Consent Order which can be submitted to the court for approval and sealing without the need to commence formal court proceedings. Some preliminary financial issues may also need to be resolved before the parties can agree the terms of their overall financial settlement, such as interim financial support (also known as spousal maintenance). If the interim financial arrangements cannot be resolved then a court application to deal solely with this issue may be necessary.
If efforts to resolve all issues by agreement fail then it may be necessary to apply to the court for these issues to be determined by a Judge.