Vigorous litigation and the most civilised negotiations without litigation end, if pursued, in a court order. The order will be made in the teeth of opposition at the end of proceedings if the former course is pursued, and with a consent order if the latter. In between are many cases which settle at some point in the litigation.
There is a point in negotiations where delay on one party’s side may have so prolonged the tension, and increased the costs, that an application for ancillary relief should be made to the court for it to determine the matter. The fact that proceedings have been instituted should be a trigger to more purposeful negotiations. External events may complicate or facilitate settlement prospects. A child may leave university and get a job. One of the parties may get a better job or lose one. The housing market in the area may change with the advent of a new firm or the disappearance of another. One party may develop a new relationship.
Where a case has been contested and the district judge hears it, judgment is usually delivered after both parties have given their evidence and been cross-examined and final speeches have been delivered by their solicitors or barristers. In a complex matter the decision may be given at the end of the hearing and the reasons given in a judgment later.
The judgment will recount the history of the marriage and the way in which the financial situation of the parties reached the present circumstances. Where issues have been in dispute the judge makes findings of fact on them. He or she may say that the explanation given for the disappearance of a sum of money from an account is unacceptable and the judge may, as he or she is entitled to do in a case of inadequate disclosure, draw adverse inferences from the evidence given. For example, the judge may