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Harris, Law Specialist
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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At my third divorce resolution hearing, under some pressure

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At my third divorce resolution hearing, under some pressure from my ex-wife's lawyers and under duress, I signed a hand written 'heads of agreement'.
However, after leaving court and giving the matter some closer consideration I felt that the periodical payments which I had agreed to pay her until I am 65(I am now 54) was simply unsustainable and would impact on my ability to provide for myself.
I therefore refused to sign the official Consent Order.
My wife's solicitors have stated a legal case where a similar situation occurred and they say my signature on the H of A document is legally binding and I cannot therefore alter it.
I am aware that many financial agreements are subject to a 'cooling off' period after being signed - I just wondered if there was any point in pursuing this line perhaps in order to get our agreement re-examined.
Hi, thank you for your question. I am a qualified family solicitor.
The heads of agreement are not necessarily a binding contract and the court would need to look at how you arrived at agreeing to the proposal.
In financial relief matters agreements only become binding once approved by the Court and given that you have refused to sign the consent order, your wife's solicitors would not have been able to submit this to court and it will now be left for the court to decide whether the agreement should stand.
Given that you are arguing pressure and duress, the court should be informed of this if her solicitor's pursue the heads of agreement as a binding agreement.
Please rate positive if you are happy with the response.
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Only a couple of weeks ago my wife's solicitors informed me that there is quote: ' a sealed order of the court' and 'I cannot unilaterally change payments - or indeed change anything else stated in the court order. I have the consent order in my hand signed by wife - but I still have the original which I have stated I will not sign.
Do you have a copy of the sealed court order you can attach here?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes I have a copy - to be honest the document has confidential information which I'd rather not send out on email.
The consent order simply contains financial information - the main stay being periodical payments which I need to get re-xamined/amended. The FMH and a payment for half share of our business is done and dusted.
But the consent order itself, which details the terms of the settlement, has not been approved by the court so at this time the consent order is not binding. When deciding whether the approve a consent order the court will check to ensure that the terms are workable. If you cannot afford to pay the maintenance stated in the consent order then I doubt that a court would approve the terms.
I can only guess that the sealed court order that they are referring to will be in relation to the directions made at the last hearing.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have complied with probably 75% of the terms stated in the H of A - my issue is with the PP - the level and length of which are simply unsustainable. My wife received a settlement payment of £260,000 (200K from the FMH and 60K her 50%share in our business) and car payments of £400 p/month until mid-2017. I got 74K and ownership of our business from which I have to give her £1200 p/month until I am 65. So as you can she, based on the fact that I only run a small business on my own, she did pretty well. She has a 200K house with no mortgage, earning income of £1100 per month working part-time and a pension of £200 per month. There is no way she needs £1200 per month from me to survive - I need to get in front of a judge and get him/her to see this.
I have a property worth £130K on which I had to borrow £40K. As you can see, I'm not exactly up shit street but I could do without giving my ex £1200 p/month.
Given your apparent disagreement with the settlement I would suggest that, if there is no further hearing listed, that you make an application to the court to restore proceedings so that the court can consider your position, unless she can agree to reduce the periodical payments to a more sustainable level for you through negotiations.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Many thanks - I'll await a response from her solicitors.
Will get back to you to if I need any more info.
Thanks, ***** ***** luck.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Think I'm going to need it!!