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What are we each entitled to in our divorce settlement?

What does the law say about how to split the house, how to share pensions and other assets, and how much maintenance is payable.

What steps can we take to reach a fair agreement?

The four basic steps to reaching an agreement on divorce finances are: disclosure, getting advice, negotiating and implementing a Consent Order.

What is a Consent Order and why do we need one?

A Consent Order is a legally binding document that finalises a divorcing couple's agreement on property, pensions and other assets.

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What financial orders can the court make?

  • D L
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11 Aug 09 #137909 by D L
Topic started by D L
1. An order for maintenance pending suit;
2. An order for periodical payments or secured periodical payments;
3. A lump sum order;
4. A property adjustment order;
5. A pension sharing order;

The orders are not mutually exclusive, and the court can make the whole range of orders in any one case.

In turn they are:

An order for Maintenance Pending Suit:

This is a temporary order that periodical payments are made by one party to the other while the proceedings are ongoing. The order is to enable the lower earning party to have a form of income during the proceedings. An order for maintenance pending suit can include an amount for the receiver to pay his or her legal costs if legal aid is not available. Once the main proceedings are decided MPS ends either completely, or an order for periodical payments is made.

You can read more about MPS here:


An order for Periodical Payments or Secured Periodical Payments:

Periodical payments (spousal maintenance) is an order that one party pays the other a specified sum periodically, most often monthly.

You can read more about periodical payments here:


Secured periodical payments are where the paying party must demonstrate to the court that they have secured the fund to make the payments, and usually occur where there have been demonstrable difficulties in making the payer pay. This is an extremely rare order.

Another type of periodical payment is a nominal order. This is where there is an order that the payer pays the receiver say £1 per year. The money is never paid, the idea is the keep the door open to an application should the receiver fall on hard times. A nominal order can have an end date, which is frequently the children ending full time education.

A Lump Sum order:

This is simply that one party must pay a lump sum to another. A lump sum can be paid in instalments if the court deems it fair to so order, for instance if one party needs to raise the funds from a variety of sources.

A Property Adjustment order:

This can take one of two main forms. Firstly, it may be a transfer from one party to the other, or from one party to a child or children of the family; or secondly it may be an order reducing the share of one of the parties.

In terms of a transfer, this can be ordered with a lump sum to the person transferring their interest, especially if it is an order that one party transfers their whole share in a property to the other.

A transfer can also be ordered subject to a charge in favour of the person transferring their interest. What this means is that on one of the trigger events, the charge becomes payable. In simple terms what happens is the court determines what the amount of the charge should be and expresses it as a percentage. So lets say the person transferring their interest is entitled to a 30% charge. That means on one of the triggers occurring the person in whose favour the charge is receives either 30% of the net proceeds of sale (if the property is sold) or 30% of the value of the property if the person living in the house decides to buy out the charge rather than sell the property.

Trigger events can be anything the parties agree between themselves, but the usual triggers are:

Remarriage or death of the party in the home;
The co-habitation of the party occupying the home for more than 6 months;
The youngest child completing full time education (and full time education should be defined as either the end of the first degree or the end of secondary education);
A fixed date.

Also under the hearing of property adjustment orders are Mesher and Martin orders.

A Mesher order is very simply put a postponement of sale until a named event occurs, which is most usually the children concluding their education. It is usual for a Mesher order to specify who pays what outgoings including mortgage. Although the property remains in joint names, it is usual for an order to be made that only the named party can occupy the property.

The main difference between a Martin and a Mesher order is that a Martin order settles the property on the occupying party for life or until remarriage.

A pension sharing order:

This is an order that the pension of one party is to be shared with the other. It should be noted that there is no such thing as a pension transfer order, so the court gets around this by making an order that a pension be shared 100% should it be deemed fair that one party gets all of a pension (which can happen when one party has more than one pension).
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