Ancillary Relief: Financial Relief Following a Divorce


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What is Ancillary Relief in Divorce Proceedings?

In England and Wales, when couples decide to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership, the financial aspects are addressed through a legal process known as financial remedy. This procedure, formerly referred to as ancillary relief proceedings, is initiated to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of assets and financial responsibilities. Parties involved may choose to apply for ancillary relief as part of their divorce petition, particularly if they anticipate a financial dispute.

The financial remedy process typically involves considering the matrimonial pot, which encompasses various assets like the matrimonial home/family home, savings, pensions, businesses, and personal belongings.

Pension sharing may be a component of the financial settlement, allowing for the division of pension assets between the parties.

Financial orders, including periodical payments or lump sum awards, may be requested to meet the financial needs and responsibilities of both parties, with specific attention to dependent children.

Ancillary Relief – The Process

To commence the financial remedy proceedings, parties can apply for an ancillary relief order, indicating their intention to address financial matters formally. The starting point for the court is the principle of fairness, taking into account the contributions of each party to the marriage or civil partnership.

During the proceedings, parties are required to provide comprehensive financial disclosure, presenting a clear picture of their assets, income, and liabilities. This information is vital for the court to determine an equitable financial settlement. Couples are encouraged to explore alternative dispute resolution methods, such as financial dispute resolution (FDR) hearings or mediation, to reach an agreement outside the courtroom.

A clean break order may be considered, especially if parties wish to sever financial ties completely. This type of order aims to provide a final and conclusive resolution to the financial aspects of the divorce or dissolution.

Consent orders, which formalise the agreed-upon financial settlement, are commonly sought by parties involved in ancillary relief proceedings. These orders are submitted to the court for approval, making the agreed terms legally binding.


How long does Ancillary Relief Take?

The duration of ancillary relief proceedings, now known as financial remedy proceedings in England and Wales, can vary significantly from case to case. Several factors influence the timeline, making it challenging to provide a precise estimate. Here are some key considerations that impact the duration of ancillary relief proceedings:

Complexity of the case:

The complexity of the financial matters involved in the divorce or civil partnership dissolution significantly affects the duration of the proceedings. Cases with intricate financial portfolios, business interests, or high net worth may take longer to resolve.

Cooperation between parties:

The level of cooperation between the parties involved is a crucial factor. If both parties are willing to negotiate and reach agreements amicably, the process may move more swiftly. Conversely, if there is contention and disputes over financial issues, the proceedings may take longer.

Court caseload and availability:

The availability of court resources and the overall caseload can impact the scheduling of hearings and the final hearing date.

Courts have varying capacities, and the availability of judges and court time can influence the timeline of ancillary relief proceedings.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

Parties may opt for alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or financial dispute resolution (FDR) hearings, to expedite the process. If successful, these methods can lead to a quicker resolution compared to traditional court proceedings.

Financial disclosure:

The timely and complete exchange of financial information is crucial for the progress of ancillary relief proceedings. Delays in providing necessary documentation can prolong the process.

Negotiation and agreement:

The willingness of parties to negotiate and reach agreements on financial matters can significantly impact the timeline. If agreements can be reached at an early stage, the proceedings may conclude more expeditiously.

Type of Order and complexity of orders sought:

The type of financial orders sought, such as clean break orders or pension-sharing orders. Their complexity can influence the time required for the court to consider and finalise the arrangements.

Interim orders:

The need for interim orders, such as maintenance or use of the family home, can add to the duration of proceedings. These orders may be temporary measures while the final settlement is being determined.

It’s important to note that ancillary relief proceedings often involve multiple stages, including the financial dispute resolution (FDR) hearing, where parties attempt to reach an agreement with the assistance of a judge. If an agreement is not reached, the case may proceed to a final hearing, which can extend the overall timeline.

How can ARC Costs assist?

At ARC Costs, our team of expert Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers can assist in the recovery and negotiation of your ancillary relief costs.

Moreover, if you require assistance in applying for a financial order/ancillary relied, we have a network of solicitors who can assist on your case.

Our overriding objective is to seek the best costs outcome for our clients and whether you require production of a costing instrument such as a Bill of Costs, or advice on negotiations, or advocacy in court, we can be of service.

If a party to your proceedings is behaving unreasonably, we can provide advice on the chance of success when seeking a costs order. Alternatively, we can also provide aid if you have had a costs order served upon yourself and as independent costs experts, we can represent either Paying or Receiving Parties.

To find out more about how we can help you with legal costs in Ancillary Relief Proceedings, please contact us at 01204 397302. Our experts are also available via email at

We may receive payments from third party solicitors on our panel to whom we may refer your claim. We will never charge you for any referrals made to our panel of third parties.


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01204 397302

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