FAQs: Ancillary Relief Orders


What is an Ancillary Relief Order?

The division of matrimonial assets by the divorce court is covered by Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. There may be disputes between couples about settling their financial affairs. If disagreement continues, then after the decree nisi (provisional divorce) has been granted, the judge can decide on ancillary relief through various methods; for example, the transfer of property and the payment of lump sums, in order to effect the fair division of shared assets.

What is a Consent Order?

A divorcing couple may reach agreement between themselves regarding their financial affairs, perhaps through mediation services. In this case, they should ask their independent family solicitors to check the agreement for fairness and legality. If the parties want the agreement to become legally binding, they must instruct their solicitors to apply for a court order known as a ‘consent’ order.

How long will it take to get an Ancillary Relief Order?

If a couple cannot agree their financial settlement, one party may wait until the decree nisi is granted to ask the court to decide the matter. In certain circumstances, they may ask the court for the decree absolute (or final divorce) to be delayed, until a settlement has been ordered. Conversely, ancillary relief can be ordered by the court even after the decree absolute, as there is no particular time-limit. However, if one ex-partner remarries, they will lose their right to apply to the court for an ancillary relief order.

What does the court take into consideration?

All relevant issues will be considered, such as:

  • The financial needs of both partners after the divorce and in the future
  • The partners’ accustomed life-style
  • The length of marriage or civil partnership

Ancillary relief orders cover any assets acquired during the marriage, such as the marital home and its contents, pensions, investments and insurance. Additionally, any debts acquired during the marriage, such as credit card debt, can be taken into consideration by the court.

What should I do if my ex-partner applies to the court for an Ancillary Relief Order?

A family solicitor will be able to explain the current application of Section 25 to you, concerning the financial arrangements of your divorce (or dissolution for same-sex couples). A qualified solicitor can give expert advice on the course that will best protect your interests, throughout the process of obtaining a divorce settlement.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on ancillary relief orders, we can help to put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor for free. Call our experienced case handlers on 08001 221 2299 and let our dedicated case handlers match you with appropriate expert solicitors.

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