Worthingtons Solicitors

Financial Settlements & Ancillary Relief

Financial Applications to the Court following a marriage breakdown

Explaining the Ancillary Relief Procedure in Northern Ireland

In cases where no agreement can be reached between the parties as to how matrimonial assets/ debts are to be divided and apportioned following a marriage breakdown, an application can be filed with the court once a divorce petition has been issued to have the matter adjudicated upon. The following is an explanation of the process involved.

  • A grounding affidavit is filed with the court, along with a summons, setting out all the relevant information as per the form below.
  • A First Directions Hearing is set before the court.
  • A Replying affidavit should be filed by the other party setting out all relevant information as per the form below.This usually must be filed within 21 days of the court direction.
  • Both parties must then file all relevant discovery, as set out below, at least 14 days before the review hearing before the court:
    • A valuation of any property, no more than 6 months old
    • The most recent mortgage redemption statement
    • Bank statements for the last 12 months for every account listed
    • A surrender value for every life policy, no more than 6 months old
    • Copy P60 for last financial year
    • Last 6 payslips
    • Last 2 yrs of business accounts if self employed
    • If interest in any other business accounts for last 2 yrs and any other documentation on which valuation based
    • Latest pension statement or CETV provided by Trustees of pension scheme
    • Any other documentation necessary to explain or clarify issues.
  • In more complex cases, more discovery may be required but it will only be ordered if it is proportionate to the complexity and value of the case.
  • Any party in default may be penalised in costs. If a party is legally assisted, costs may be deducted from any settlement received at the end of the case.
  • At the first review hearing the Master will ascertain whether the case is in a position to move on to second review hearing which will take the form in part of a Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing.
  • At least 21 days before the Second Review Hearing the following will be filed with the matrimonial office: (i)A Statement of Core Issues (ii)A written Estimate of Costs to Date (iii)A paginated bundle of any further discovery ordered (iv)Copies of Experts Reports or Valuations to be relied on.
  • All parties must attend the second review hearing which will be given an appointment hearing, fixed in time and 30mins allowed for each review.The hearing will be conducted by a Master who will not hear the case if it is contested but will endeavour to assist the parties to settle the case.The purpose of the hearing will be to define issues, save costs and endeavour to settle.
  • If the case does not settle at that stage a date will be fixed for final hearing.This date will only be vacated in exceptional circumstances and any defaulting party will be penalised in costs. The parties will be given one last opportunity to negotiate prior to the hearing.The parties will be obliged to record all offers, responses and agreed matters.On any argument as to costs, the Court will seek to see a note of this record.A note of costs will also be required at the final hearing for the benefit of the parties.

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