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   Ancillary relief proceedings
  Ancillary Relief Proceedings   "Find out more about the steps for ancillary relief proceedings"

Seperate from divorce, ancillary relief proceedings are concerned with the financial matters including the family home and pensions that typically represent the majority of matrimonial assets in a long marriage. Use this guide to understand the stages from the first appointment, FDR to the final hearing.
  Introduction
  Overriding objective
  Offers to settle
  Step 1 - Application for ancillary relief
  Step 2 to 3 - Procedure relating to pension rights
  Step 4 to 6 - Procedure before the first appointment
  Step 7 to 9 - The first appointment
  Step 10 to 11 - Procedure before the FDR appointment
  Step 12 - The FDR appointment
  Step 13 to 14 - Procedure before the final hearing
  Step 15 to 16 - The final hearing
  Step 17 - Pension sharing order annex
  Step 18 - Pension administrator responsibilities

  Back back All categories 3 of 3    

 

Introduction
The proceedings concerned with the financial matters are known as ancillary relief because the financial matters are seen as being ancillary to the divorce proceedings.

A new process to resolve ancillary relief was introduced from the 5 June 2000 giving courts greater control resulting in fewer delays before reaching a settlement and lower costs.


These new ancillary relief proceedings that help the courts achieve a clean break between the parties, were introduced by the Family Proceedings (Amendment No. 2) Rules 1999, and in particular Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 3491. Different orders can be applied to the matrimonial home by the court depending on the circumstances of the parties.

As a result of new pension sharing legislation, these Family Proceedings Rules were amended to reflect the court's new procedures relating to the valuations of pension arrangements of the parties as a result of divorce. This was documented in Family Proceedings (Amendment) Rules 2000 and
Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 2267 and implemented at the same time pension sharing was introduced on 1 December 2000.

The following provides extracts from these regulations which are produced by and subject to Crown Copyright, showing the step-by-step process an individual must follow when making an application for ancillary relief. Although it applies to all financial matters such as assets on divorce, emphasis is placed on the requirements where there are pension arrangements.



Overriding objective

Family Proceedings Rule 2.51B states that the overriding objective of the ancillary relief rules is to enable the court to deal with cases justly and this includes:

ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;
   
saving expenses;
   
dealing with cases in ways that are proportionate to the money involved, importance of the case, complexity of the issues and the financial position of each party;
   
ensuring that the case is dealt with expeditiously and fairly;
   
allotting the court's resources appropriately to the resource needs of the case.

In addition, the parties are required to help the court to further the overriding objective. The court must further the overriding objective by managing cases and in particular, to encourage the parties to co-operate, to settle dispute through mediation, help the parties to settle the whole or part of the case and to give directions to ensure that the trial of a case proceeds quickly and efficiently.


Offers to settle
No offer to settle which is not an open offer to settle shall be admissible at any stage of the proceedings, except as provided under the Family Proceedings Rule 2.61E. In this Rule both parties must include any offers, proposals or responses made wholly or partly without prejudice, however, it will not make any material admissible as evidence if it is not admissible.


Application for ancillary relief


Step 1
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61A requires that an application for ancillary relief must be made by using Form A. This can be submitted by either spouse (called the applicant) and must be sent to the court where the case is pending, this being either a divorce county court or a High Court. It is on Form A where the applicant must indicate if an order for ancillary relief will include any pension arrangements. Upon filing Form A by either spouse the court must:

fix a first appointment not less than 12 weeks and not more than 16 weeks after the date of the filing of the notice;
   
serve a copy on the other spouse (called the respondent) within 4 days of the date of the filing of the notice.

The date fixed by the court for the first appointment must not be cancelled except with the court's permission and, if cancelled, the court must immediately fix a new date.


Procedure relating to pension rights

Step 2
Family Proceedings Rule 2.70 applies where an application for ancillary relief has been made, and indicated in Form A that the applicant or respondent has or is likely to have any benefits under a pension arrangement.

When the court fixes the first appointment as required by Family Proceedings Rule 2.61A, the party with the pension rights must, within 7 days after receiving notification of the date of the first appointment, send a copy of Form A and request from the person responsible for each pension arrangement (this being the scheme provider or administrator) where he or she is likely to have benefits certain information as specified in the Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 1048, Regulation 2 of the Pensions on Divorce etc. (Provision of Information) Regulations 2000 as follows:

a valuation of pension rights or benefits accrued under that member's pension arrangement;
   
a statement summarising the way in which the valuation is calculated, this being the cash equivalent transfer value (CETV);
   
the pension benefits which are included in a valuation;
   
whether the person responsible for the pension arrangement offers membership to a person entitled to a pension credit as an internal transfer, and if so, the types of benefits available to pension credit members under that pension arrangement;
   
whether the person responsible for the pension arrangement intends to discharge his liability for a pension credit as a result of a pension sharing order other than by offering membership to a person entitled to a pension credit as an external transfer;
   
the schedule of charges which the person responsible for the pension arrangement will levy.

A request for information does not need to be made where the party with the pension rights is in possession of, or has already requested, a relevant valuation of the pension rights or benefits accrued under the pension arrangement in question. A relevant valuation must not be older than 12 months from the date it was produced to the date fixed by the court for the first appointment.

Step 3
Once the person with the pension rights receives information from each pension arrangement, he or she has within 7 days to send a copy of this to the other party, together with the name and address of the person responsible for that pension arrangement.


Procedure before the first appointment

Step 4
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61B requires that both parties, at the same time, must exchange with each other and send to the court, the financial statement in Form E.

Form E must be sent to the court and exchanged no less than 35 days before the date of the first appointment. Form E requires that information be provided with regard to pension arrangements including SERPS, although not including the basic state pension as follows:

name and address of each scheme, plan or policy;
   
number of the scheme, plan or policy;
   
type of scheme, plan or policy such as a money purchase, final salary pension or public service scheme;
   
lump sum payable on death in service before retirement;
   
lump sum payable on death in deferment before retirement;
   
lump sum payable on death after retirement;
   
the cash equivalent transfer value;
   
earliest date when benefit can be paid;
   
estimated lump sum and monthly pension payable on retirement, assuming you take the full tax free lump sum;
   
estimated monthly pension without taking any tax free lump sum;
   
spouse's benefit on death in service, death in deferment and death in retirement;
   
dependant's benefit on death in service, death in deferment and death in retirement.

Where the person with the pension arrangement has been provided with a valuation of their pension rights by the trustees or managers of the pension scheme, then this must be attached to Form E.

If this information is not available, the person with the pension arrangement must give the estimated date when it will be available and attach to Form E the letter to the pension company or administrators from whom it has been sought. Where there is more than one pension arrangement, this process has to be done for each plan or scheme.

If the person with the pension rights has made free standing additional voluntary contributions (FSAVC) or additional voluntary contributions (AVC) to any plan or scheme, this information must be provided separately if the benefits resulting from these contributions are recorded or paid separately. Where there are any SERPS benefits, these must also be provided.

Step 5

At least 14 days before the hearing of the first appointment, each party must send to the court and the other spouse the following information:

concise statement of the issues between the parties;
   
chronology;
   
questionnaire setting out with reference to the concise statement of issues any further information and documents requested from the other spouse or a statement that no information or documents are required;
   
notice in Form G stating whether that party will be in a position at the first appointment to proceed to a Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) appointment.

Where an order for ancillary relief includes pension arrangements, the applicant must send to the court and the other spouse at least 14 days before the first appointment, confirmation that Family Proceedings Rule 2.70 has been complied with.

Step 6
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61F requires each party immediately before the first appointment to produce to the court an estimate in Form H of the costs incurred by him or her up to the date of the first appointment.


The first appointment

Step 7
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61D states that the first appointment must be conducted with the objective of defining the issues and saving costs. Both parties must personally attend the first appointment unless the court orders otherwise. At the first appointment the district judge must determine and give directions about the following:

The valuation of assets (including where appropriate, the joint instruction of joint experts);
   
obtaining and exchanging expert evidence, if required;
   
evidence to be provided by each party and details of further chronologies or schedules to be filed by each party;
   
refer the parties to attend the FDR appointment, unless the judge decides that a referral is not appropriate;
   
given the contents of Form G filed by the parties, treat the first appointment as a FDR appointment;
   
where an order for ancillary relief includes pension arrangements, to require any party to request a valuation from the trustees or managers of any pension scheme;
   
have regard to all the circumstances including the extent to which each party has complied with the requirements to send documents with Form E, to make an order about the costs of the hearing;

Step 8
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61C refers to the Civil Procedure Rules 35.1 to 35.14 relating to expert evidence. If the court establishes the need for expert evidence with consideration to the overriding objective of the Family Proceedings Rule 2.51B but where there is no agreement between the parties, particularly with regard to pension rights, the court can instruct that evidence be given by a single pensions expert.

Step 9
At the conclusion of the first appointment and where the parties have not settled the case, the court must fix the financial dispute resolution appointment. The parties must comply with the directions of the court and must supply all the information that is required by the court.


Procedure before the FDR appointment

Step 10
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61E requires that no later than 8 days before the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment the parties must send to the court details of all offers and proposals, and responses to them. No offer to settle which is not an open offer to settle shall be admissible at any stage of the proceedings.

Step 11
Family Proceedings Rule 2.61F requires each party immediately before the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment to produce to the court an estimate in Form H of the costs incurred by him or her up to the date of the FDR appointment.


The FDR appointment

Step 12
Both parties must attend the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment unless the court orders otherwise. The FDR appointment must be treated as a meeting held for the purpose of discussion and negotiation between the parties. The parties attending the FDR appointment must use their best efforts to reach an agreement on the matters between them.

The district judge or judge hearing the FDR appointment must observe the negotiations and can give a direction as to what would be the best outcome. This could be to conduct any further FDR appointment, to make a consent order if there is agreement between the parties or make a directions order including to fix a final hearing date.

At the end of the Financial Dispute Resolution appointment, any documents sent to the court must, at the request of the party that sent them, be returned to him or her and not retained on the court records. Any 'open offers' will be retained as evidence on the court records.


Procedure before the final hearing

Step 13
Family Proceedings Rule 2.69E requires that no less than 14 days before the final hearing of an application for ancillary relief, the applicant must send to the court and the other spouse an open statement which sets out concise details, including the amounts involved, of the orders (such as a pension sharing order) which he or she proposes to ask the court to make.

Step 14
Family Proceedings Rule 2.69E also requires that not more than 8 days after the applicant has served the statement, the other spouse must send to the court and the applicant an open statement which sets out concise details, including the amounts involved, of the orders which he or she proposes to ask the court to make.


Final hearing

Step 15
A different judge to the one appointed at the first appointment and Financial Dispute Resolution appointment determines, based on the evidence of the case, whatever order he or she believes to be appropriate. In terms of a pension arrangement, this could result in a pension sharing order or an earmarking order. The details of a pension sharing order must be documented in the annex that is sent to the person responsible for the pension arrangement.

Step 16
The general rule in ancillary relief proceedings is the court will not make an order requiring one party to pay the costs of another party. The court may make such an order at any stage of the proceedings where it considers it appropriate to do so because of the conduct of a party in relation to the proceedings (whether before or during them).

The Family Proceedings Rule 2.71 considers the factors the court must take into account when making an order for costs and these include the following:

any failure by a party to comply with these Rules, any order of the court or any practice direction which the court considers relevant;
   
any open offer to settle made by a party;
   
whether it was reasonable for a party to raise, pursue or contest a particular allegation or issue;
   
the manner in which a party has pursued or responded to the application or a particular allegation or issue;
   
any other aspect of a party's conduct in relation to the proceedings which the court considers relevant;
   
the financial effect on the parties of any costs order.


Pension sharing order annex

Step 17
Attached to the pension sharing order is an annex for each pension arrangement to be sent to the pension administrator of that scheme. The annex will state the following:

name of the court that is making the order and the case number;
   
that it is a pension sharing order made under Part IV of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 and the date;
   
that the annex to the order provides the person responsible for the pension arrangement with the information required by the Family Proceedings Rules 1991 as amended;
   
name of the transferor and transferee;
   
the transferor's national insurance number;
   
details of the pension arrangement, policy reference number or details to identify the pension arrangement;
   
the specific percentage value (or the specified amount if ordered by the court) of the pension arrangement to be transferred in accordance with section 29(1) of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 for the creation of pension credits and pension debits;
   
the date that the benefits are to be valued in accordance with The Divorce etc. (Pensions) Regulations 2000;
   
how the pension sharing charges are to be apportioned between the parties or if the pension sharing charges are to be paid in full by the transferor;
   
that the person responsible for the pension arrangement has furnished the information required by Regulation 4 of the of the Pensions on Divorce etc. (Provision of Information) Regulations 2000 and, that it appears from the information that there is power to make an order including provision under section 24B (pension sharing) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973;
   
the day this order or provision takes effect from;
   
that the person responsible for the pension arrangement must discharge their liability within the period of 4 months beginning with the day on which the order or provision takes effect or the first day they are in receipt of;
     
  order or provision for ancillary relief, including the annex;
  decree of divorce or nullity of marriage, and;
  information prescribed by Regulation 5 of the Pensions on Divorce etc. (Provision of Information) Regulations 2000.
   
If the person responsible for the pension arrangement is to be directed by the court, that the implementation period for discharging their liability should be determined by regulation made under section 34(4) or 41(2)(a) of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999.


Pension administrator responsibilities

Step 18
The person responsible for the pension arrangement, this being the trustee, manager or pension administrator, must complete the valuation process and discharge it's liability by way of a pension credit within 4 months of receiving the pension sharing order and associated annex for that scheme.

Within 21 days of receiving the pension sharing order the pension administrator is required to provide the member and the former spouse with information relating to the parties and to the costs of implementing the order.

Also within 21 days of receiving all documents and information necessary to implement the order the administrator is required to provide an implementation notice to both the member and former spouse, stating when the 4 month period for implementing the pension credit has begun.

Within 21 days of implementing the pension sharing order, this being at some point within the 4 month period, the administrator is required to issue both the member and former spouse a notice of discharge of liability. For the member this notice must contain the following information;

value of the member's rights;
   
value of the pension debit;
   
any charges deducted from the member's rights;
   
the value of the member's rights after deducting the pension debit and any charges;
   
effective date of the pension sharing order.

For the former spouse this notice must contain the following information;

value of the pension credit;
   
any amount deducted by way of charges;
   
the value of the credit after charges have been deducted;
   
effective date of the pension sharing order.

The information provided will vary if the member's pension is in payment, if the former spouse's pension credit is implemented as an internal transfer rather than an external transfer and whether the former spouse is taking the benefits of the pension arrangement due to reaching retirement age.

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