Complete Guide to Kitchen Table Divorce Settlements
In this guide, we'll be covering kitchen table divorce settlements, which are becoming more popular year-on-year as more couples aim to keep relations amicable and reduce their legal costs where possible.
Table Of Contents
What Is a Kitchen Table Divorce Settlement?
A kitchen table divorce settlement refers to a process where divorcing couples negotiate the terms of their separation directly with each other, without the input of solicitors, typically at home or in a non-legal setting, such as around the kitchen table.
DIY divorce throws up several potential issues, none more so than negotiating a financial settlement.
When the decision to separate or divorce arises, the task of dividing your financial assets must be confronted.
The only way for couples to end financial ties after the decree absolute (Final Order), is to agree to a divorce financial settlement and ask the court to approve the terms.
This encompasses money, property, debts, and even pensions. Numerous avenues exist for agreeing on how to separate your finances, with some options being more cost-effective than others.
For a kitchen table divorce settlement to work effectively, both parties must be fully informed about the extent of their matrimonial assets and the legal implications of their decisions.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of a kitchen table financial agreement:
Cost-effectiveness: Opting for a kitchen table agreement allows you to reach an agreement without incurring professional fees. However, for your financial arrangements to be legally binding and to prevent future claims through a “clean break divorce,” you will still need to have your agreement legally drafted and submitted to the court.
Flexibility in terms of time: Since you are reaching an agreement on your own, you are not confined by standard working hours. This grants you the freedom to sit down together at a time that suits both parties.
Retaining control: By bypassing solicitors and negotiating on your own behalf, you maintain control over the process. Utilising services such as amicable or mediation can further enhance your control.
Potential lack of fairness: A kitchen table agreement may not necessarily result in a fair outcome for both parties. While it may be tempting to save money and attempt to reach an agreement independently, it might not be the optimal choice for you and your family.
Overlooking options: There is a possibility that not all available options have been considered when crafting a kitchen table agreement. Having a comprehensive understanding of your choices and visualising the agreement’s implications in the long term (five or even ten years down the line) can prove invaluable.
Power dynamics: If one person possesses stronger negotiation skills, the other party may find themselves in a weaker position to express their needs and concerns.
In such cases, involving a neutral third party to support the negotiations can help level the playing field.
Before settling on a kitchen table agreement, it is essential to reflect on the following five questions:
- Am I comfortable negotiating with my ex-partner?
- Is a 50/50 split fair given our unique circumstances?
- Will this arrangement remain viable in the years to come?
- Are both of us satisfied with the outcome, or does one party feel they received a disproportionately favorable deal?
- Have you taken into account all our assets, including pensions and cryptocurrency, ensuring that nothing has been overlooked?
Approaching the division of finances during a separation or divorce is a significant milestone that carries enduring consequences. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly consider your options and strive for a resolution that truly aligns with your needs and those of your family.
How To Navigate the Process
Navigating a kitchen table divorce settlement in the UK requires meticulous preparation, clear documentation, and adherence to legal procedures to ensure the agreement is recognised by the courts.
Before entering discussions, both parties should gather all relevant financial information. This includes assets, liabilities, income, and anticipated future expenses.
Need inspiration? Here are four examples of typical UK divorce settlements
Couples should agree upon a time and neutral location to discuss the terms of their settlement.
- Assets and Liabilities: List bank accounts, property, investments, debts, and other financial responsibilities.
- Income and Expenses: Document current income sources and monthly expenses.
Once both parties reach an agreement, it is crucial to document the details. This document should cover the division of property, spousal maintenance, and child support, if applicable.
After documenting the agreement, both parties should seek independent legal advice. A solicitor can draft a financial consent order, which formalises the agreement legally.
Submitting the consent order to the court finalises the divorce settlement, making it enforceable.
What Are The Potential Challenges?
While kitchen table divorce settlements in the UK can streamline the process of ending a marriage, they can present specific challenges that couples should be aware of beforehand.
1) Dispute Resolution
In scenarios where disagreements arise, the absence of formal mediation can make resolution difficult.
Neither party may have the necessary negotiation skills, which can lead to prolonged discussions or the need to seek external assistance.
2) Amending Agreements
Flexibility is a significant advantage of kitchen table settlements; however, both parties must understand that any formal amendments to the agreement may require legal input.
Changes are not as straightforward as the original agreement and often necessitate additional paperwork and potential legal fees.
3) Enforcement and Compliance
Ensuring the enforcement of an informal agreement can pose problems.
In cases where one party does not comply with the terms, the other may have to seek court intervention to enforce the agreement, which can nullify the initial intent of keeping the divorce proceedings amicable and less costly.
In the UK, during a kitchen table divorce settlement, individuals must disclose all financial assets and liabilities. The key elements below will form the cornerstones of an amicable and legally sound divorce settlement:
- Income: Each party’s earnings and potential spousal support.
- Debts: Outstanding liabilities should be fairly divided.
- Pensions: The division should reflect the marriage duration and respective entitlements.
- Savings and Investments: A clear and equitable split must be negotiated.
- Residency: Where and with whom the child will primarily live.
- Contact: The frequency and nature of the non-resident parent’s time with the child.
- Maintenance: A financial contribution from the non-resident parent, as determined by the Child Maintenance Service guidelines or an agreed-upon amount.Family
- Home: Decisions on whether to sell, one party to buy out the other, or other arrangements.
- Personal Property: Items of value, such as cars and jewellery, need to be divided fairly.
- Business Interests: These should be assessed for value and divided in alignment with each party’s contribution and future needs.
There are, of course, many other factors couples should consider when negotiating a financial settlement. The court has many factors they consider when deciding on a financial order.
If you decide to go down the kitchen table route and negotiate the division of money and assets without help, you should always get legal advice on the terms of your agreement.
Professional legal advice can help you understand what you’re entitled to and whether or not the proposed agreement is likely to be deemed fair and reasonable by the court.
Speak with our team of divorce financial settlement solicitors, who can help you understand your rights and obligations to ensure a fair settlement can be reached.
Professionally Drafted Consent Order Service – £449
This service provides you with a solicitor-drafted financial agreement that you can submit to the court with our guidance to ensure you achieve a legally binding court order without costing you thousands.