How To Challenge An Unfair Divorce Settlement

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 25th October 2023

Financial settlements when you get divorced should be fair to both parties. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and it’s not uncommon for one person to feel like they’ve been treated unfairly during the divorce process.

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This can add to feelings of stress, anxiety and even helplessness you might already be experiencing, and you might feel at sea when it comes to what your next steps should be. But it's important to know that you do have options if you feel a divorce settlement doesn't meet your needs in regards to your situation, and getting legal advice on the situation can help you understand how to best get what you're entitled to during divorce proceedings.

Can you challenge an unfair divorce settlement?

You can challenge a divorce settlement by filing a financial order. When you do this, you are officially saying you don’t think the settlement is fair and asking the Court to decide how your assets will be split.

Before you do this, however, you may want to consider trying to renegotiate the settlement if it has not yet been solidified as a consent order. This might be achieved through mediation or communication through your divorce lawyers.

Challenging a divorce settlement as unfair can be a lengthy and costly process. With the rise of court costs and the end of legal aid for divorce cases (except in exceptional circumstances) alternative resolutions are often the most cost-effective routes.

Whether you choose to get a financial order or renegotiate your divorce settlement, an experienced divorce solicitor can help you understand your options and make an informed decision based on the facts of your case. If you do decide to file an appeal for an unfair divorce settlement, a solicitor will support you in understanding the grounds for appeal and help you navigate the process.

How do I know if my divorce settlement is fair?

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There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what makes a fair divorce settlement as every family's circumstances are different. That being said, an divorce settlement might be seen as unfair if one person:

  • Gets more money and/or assets than the other person (unequal distribution);

  • Needs financial support like child maintenance and they don’t get enough to cover their needs;

  • Tries to hide their assets so they don’t have to share them;

  • Has more say or control in the negotiations, and the other person feels pressured into agreeing;

  • Doesn’t have a divorce lawyer to help them during the process.

Having said that, it’s not always easy to know concretely whether a divorce settlement is fair or not, as what you are entitled to in a divorce financial settlement depends on a number of factors. Therefore, if you are unsure, it’s best to consult with a solicitor who can honestly advise you whether or not the proposed division of assets is fair and what your next steps should be.

How can a divorce lawyer help with challenging an unfair settlement?

An experienced divorce lawyer can play a crucial role in helping someone challenge an unfair solicitor including:

  • Looking at your situation and understanding if the settlement is unfair based on the law;

  • Acting as your advocate in court, representing your interests and arguing on your behalf to ensure you get a fair deal;

  • Negotiating with the other party or their solicitor to try and reach an agreement which is fair;

  • Gathering evidence to support that the settlement is unfair through misrepresentation or coercion;

  • If negotiations fail and your case goes to court, a lawyer will present your case and make legal arguments to convince the judge of the unfairness of the settlement.

Above all, a divorce lawyer is there to protect your legal rights and make sure you receive a settlement that is fair and just according to your circumstances.

What if my spouse disagrees with the challenge?

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Initially, if your spouse disagrees with your challenge to the settlement, your lawyers will work to negotiate a resolution. At this point they might advise enlisting the help of mediators or pursuing a route of collaborative law to find a compromise that both parties can agree on. Both of these routes can save time, money and emotional stress compared with going to court.

However, if negotiation and/or mediation doesn’t lead to an agreement, then the matter may go to court and a judge will make a decision based on the facts, the law, and what they believe to be a fair and just financial settlement.

Can I challenge a financial order if I think it was unfair?

If you have already got a financial order from the Court but you don’t feel the final divorce settlement was fair, you can appeal against it. However, this is only usually considered in exceptional circumstances.

Appealing a family court decision can be a complex and lengthy process. But if you feel you have a strong case to appeal a final financial order, it is wise to speak to an experienced family lawyer who will look at the rationale provided by the judge in the decision and provide advice on the strength of your case and the appeals process.

What can I do if I got divorced abroad but I feel the settlement was unfair?

If you got divorced overseas and feel your settlement was unfair, it is possible to seek help from the Family Court in England and Wales. If the Court feels the financial support you were given was inadequate, they can make a further financial award to rectify the situation.

What you may be entitled to in that financial settlement will depend on a range of factors, but the aim of the Court remains the same: to take action to ensure your needs are met within reason.

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If you feel you should have, or should be getting more, from your divorce settlement, you should seek help from an experienced divorce solicitor who can help you navigate the process, whether you need help negotiating a settlement, filing a financial order, or appealing a final financial order issued by the Court.

At Lawhive, you have the best UK solicitors at your fingertips ready to advise you on your case and help you get what you're entitled to. To get started, contact us and tell us about your case. Our team will quickly review the details of your situation, give you a fixed fee quote for the help you need, and match you to the very best solicitor for your situation.

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