Considering that splitting up with your spouse is a regular occurrence in the UK, with 28,865  divorce applications filed in the first quarter of 2023, many people still find themselves a little in the dark when it comes to understanding the exact process of achieving a financial settlement. To help explain the process more plainly, here’s a simple step by step guide. 

Step One – Financial Disclosure 

Financial disclosure involves the sharing of information about each spouse’s financial situation. Full financial transparency is required from both parties and involves the completion of one of the following forms.

D81 Statement of Information (Basic Disclosure)

This is completed when the divorcing couple have agreed a financial arrangement and are looking to agree a Consent Order. It will be arranged by the solicitor drafting it. 

Form E – Detailed disclosure 

This is a longer, more detailed form. Both spouses complete one voluntarily at the request by a third party, such as a solicitor representing either spouse, or a mediator, prior to commencing financial mediation sessions. It is most common when there are complex finances, significant assets or a lack of information about one or both spouse’s finances. 

Step Two – Getting a Fair Settlement 


A solicitor can provide an outline of what sort of settlement might be fair based on preliminary information, but will be reluctant to commit to giving a clearer idea of what they think is reasonable until they have seen financial disclosure forms.


Some barristers will provide an informed opinion of what the outcome is likely to be in court, but this is a more expensive service, and therefore usually reserved for divorces involving high-value assets.

Step Three – Negotiation 

The aim here is to reach an agreement that will be deemed fair by the court. This stage can also be compounded by the fact that emotions and stress levels are often running high, which a negotiator can help to manage. 

Informal arrangements

This involves direct discussions between both parties, where the divorce is amicable and not financially complex. It is advisable to have informal agreements checked out by a solicitor and have them draft a Consent Order.

Solicitor – Out of Court Offer

Once financial disclosures have been completed, solicitors will advise their client on what sort of financial settlement they think is fair. One party’s solicitor will usually deliver a proposed settlement to the other party’s solicitor, which they either accept or make a counter-offer on. If an agreement is reached, a Consent Order can then be drafted for approval by the court. If not, then the next stage is either mediation or court proceedings.


Professional mediators will meet with both parties and try to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The discussions will focus on areas of disagreement and aim to overcome them, to try to avoid ending up in court.

Step 3 – Going to Court: The final option

This happens if an out of court settlement hasn’t been achieved, and where a decision will be reached and enforced by the court. It is the most expensive route. Legal Aid may be available but this is likely to have to be paid back from your settlement Orders can be made for periodical child or spousal support maintenance, secured periodical payments on an asset, a lump sum order, transfer of property, sale of property, pension sharing, pension attachment and pension attachment of death benefits.

Court decision  

The court will base its decision on its assessment of a number of key factors, for example, the duration of the marriage, any children involved and their requirements, the financial position of each spouse, including earning potential and pension arrangements.