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The Family Court Practice 2015 (Red Book) Family Court Practice 2015

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Financial Remedies Handbook

FROM £71.10

Formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook this is the first resort for thousands of matrimonial lawyers

The Financial Remedies Handbook (formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook) has established itself as a first resort for thousands of matrimonial lawyers. By combining a clear explanation of the applicable legal principles with straightforward advice on practice and procedure, this is the essential reference work for the busy family lawyer.

This new edition has been thoroughly revised with an additional chapter on arbitration, and contains detailed analysis and practical guidance on all relevant case-law developments. 

Key topics include:
  • Transfer of Property Orders and Housing Needs
  • Settlement of Property Orders and Variation of Settlements
  • Avoidance of Disposition and Other Injunctions
  • Insolvency and Rights of Creditors
  • Costs
  • Appeals and Setting Aside
The Appendices contain a wide range of precedents and relevant legislative provisions.
  • Introduction to ancillary relief
  • Periodical payments
  • Secured periodical payments
  • Lump sum orders
  • Transfer of property orders and housing needs
  • Settlement of property orders and variation of settlements
  • Orders for sale
  • Avoidance of disposition and other injunctions
  • Consent orders
  • Pensions
  • Children
  • Insolvency and rights of creditors
  • Variation
  • Miscellaneous applications
  • Financial relief after overseas divorce
  • Procedure
  • Costs
  • Appeals and setting aside
  • Enforcement
  • The impact of the Human Rights Act 1998
  • The proceeds of Crime Act 2002
  • Future developments
  • A summing up
  • Appendices: Precedents and Legislation
Download the full contents here...
Reviews from previous editions:
“This title has deservedly become a standard reference text within the profession; this latest edition (7th edition) ensures the title will remain as relevant as ever it was”
Family Law

"a masterly review of a complex subject matter ... explains with clarity the salient issues ... guaranteed to give information and reassurance whenever the family practitioner needs it"

Margaret McDonald Daw, Senior Lecturer in Law and Practising Solicitor, School of Law, The Manchester Metropolitan University

"The author writes with authority and academic excellence ... full of useful guidance ... practitioners and law students will find this a useful and readable work, and a very helpful addition to their reference library"

Solicitors Journal

"a book such as this is greatly needed"

The Legal Executive Journal

"does exactly what it clearly sets out to do ... provides a handbook of readily digestible chapters on all aspects of ancillary relief ... a welcome addition to any family practitioner's library"

New Law Journal

"an authorative and concise reference book, with clear supporting material"

ALC Newsletter

"Roger Bird's Ancillary Relief Handbook is the compact Swiss Army knife for sorting out matrimonial finance on divorce... ought to be in the armoury of any ancillary relief practitioner... Don't go to your client or to court without it."

Family Law Journal

"user friendly... an authoritative and concise exposition... with plenty of supporting material, creating a readable and practical reference book"
Association of Lawyers for Children

"already well established as a first resort for thousands of matrimonial lawyers, this new edition is certain to continue that tradition"


“a useful and compact guide for the daily intricacies of ancillary relief … an excellent guide for a newly qualified practitioner and will provide a valuable aide-memoire for the more experienced lawyer”

Family Law
Since the last edition of this book was published in June 2013, the search for fairness and consistency in the area of law with which we are concerned has continued. The built-in tension between, on the one hand, the requirement to provide a bespoke and fair solution to fit the particular facts of a case, and on the other hand, the desire of divorced couples and their advisers to predict with some certainty what a court would do in their case (thereby making an agreed settlement more likely) has not gone away. Nevertheless, judges of the higher courts have been making an effort to record the clear principles governing their approach to decision-making and there are many such examples in this edition. Until a reforming government decides to embark on further legislation to codify the proper approach (which would not necessarily be wholly beneficial), this is the most one can hope for.

The position of family law practitioners has not been helped by the apparent wish of successive governments to destroy the publicly funded side of the profession and thereby, albeit unintentionally, to cause the demise of many long-established mediation services; an example of the law of unintended (though not unforeseen) consequences which it gives no pleasure to record. As stated in the preface to the previous edition, there is a need for some amendment to the rules to provide a simple yet fair procedure for unrepresented parties and it is encouraging that anecdotal evidence suggests
that this need has not escaped the attention of those in a position to bring this

As always, I am more than grateful to my friend and former colleague Andy King for his contributions to this book and his helpful advice throughout. The law is as at the date given below.

Roger Bird
8 June 2015


Preface from the 9th edition

In this edition, some of the issues that were mentioned in the last edition as being susceptible of development have indeed been developed by the courts. The weight to be placed on agreements has been considered at some length and it has become clear that Radmacher v Granatino was by no means the last word on this subject. At the same time, the definition of ‘marital’ and ‘non-marital’ assets has been scrutinised in a way that would not have been anticipated some years ago and the law relating to inherited or pre-acquired wealth is constantly being modified. These are all issues that will not go away and add to the pressure for some radical reconsideration, perhaps even codification, of the law relating to financial relief.

These issues normally assume importance only where the parties enjoy considerable wealth. However, it should not be forgotten that the majority of cases dealt with by district judges up and down the country involve comparatively modest assets, and the now complete abolition of legal aid for such cases has created new problems. Parties of average income cannot afford the fees that solicitors have to charge but are at a loss when any non-standard issue arises in their case. District judges are forced to improvise to ensure that justice is done but there are limits on how far a judge can go to help parties in a system of rules devised for adversarial litigation. This inevitably leads to inconsistency between courts and injustice for some parties.

The time has surely come for the amendment of the rules to provide for something like a small claims track for financial relief cases. This would empower, and indeed require, district judges at the First Directions Appointment to adopt an inquisitorial approach and to identify issues that might be important, but which the parties had not identified. Orders could then be made to produce the evidence required. This would be a rule change that would have to be carefully drafted but there is no doubt that it is possible and indeed necessary.

As with the last edition, I am very grateful to District Judge Andy King for his contributions to this book.
The law given is as at the date below.

Roger Bird,
24 June 2013

It is more than a decade since I was privileged to write a foreword to the first
edition of Roger Bird’s invaluable Handbook.

In the concluding paragraph I forecast that significant changes in law and practice were imminent. The foundation for that speculation was Mr Hoon’s announcement in February 1998 at the SFLA Conference that the Government intended to reform the law governing ancillary relief as a matter of high priority.

In July 1998 the Lord Chancellor’s Ancillary Relief Advisory Group had delivered its report on the options for reform. In the very month that I wrote the foreword, positive proposals for reform were put out for public consultation in the White Paper, Supporting Families. Surely then, I was entitled to be confident in predicting imminent change. However, as all speculators know there are no certainties. This Government’s enthusiasm for reform withered and died. The law has not changed. It is the judges who have been responsible for the evolution of the law, taking advantage of the flexibility given by section 25.

My final prediction was that the Ancillary Relief Handbook would be a demanding creation. That prediction was, at least, secure. Over the intervening years Roger has scrutinised the considerable developments in practice and the landmark judgments in the House of Lords, and to some extent, in our court. Roger’s survey of the ever-changing scene is not just completely dependable but also enlightened by an insight derived from his natural wit and his experience of the evolutionary history to which he has made such a rich contribution as judge, teacher and reformer.

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe
June 2009


First edition

Within the wider field of family law the comparative importance of ancillary
relief is not always recognised. I am in no doubt that there is a ready market
for a practitioners’ handbook and who better to write one than Roger Bird.
There can be few, if any, district judges who have greater experience of the
work in court. Furthermore, he has been an invaluable member of the
Lord Chancellor’s Ancillary Relief Advisory Group almost since its inception.
He is, thus, extremely well informed on policy issues and the perceived
weaknesses in the existing law and practice. His concluding chapter, ‘A
Summing Up’ well illustrates Roger’s virtues. It is so succinct that it challenges
the reader to detect some deficiency. But he will search in vain. It is refreshingly
practical and it is the product of original and reflective writing.
I am confident that significant changes in law and practice are imminent. So it
is easy to predict that the ancillary relief handbook will be for Roger a
demanding creation.

The Rt Hon Lord Justice Thorpe
October 1998

1.1 Financial remedies comprise those orders of a financial nature which the court may make in proceedings for divorce, judicial separation or nullity of marriage. In this chapter, the range of possible orders is set out and the general principles on which orders are made are considered. In later chapters, each type of order (eg periodical payments orders) is examined in detail; in this chapter, certain matters common to all such orders are considered, although where any individual factor merits more detailed examination it is the subject of a chapter in its own right.

This book also deals with one type of remedy which does not depend on the issue of proceedings for divorce etc, namely, applications for neglect to maintain under s 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973). The principles applicable to such applications are considered in Chapter 14.

Many readers were more familiar with the term ‘ancillary relief’ than ‘financial remedy’. The change in nomenclature was brought about by the Family Procedure Rules 2010 (hereafter FPR 2010) which came into force on 6 April 2011. Not only the names have changed; while the procedural reforms introduced originally as the pilot scheme and then as standard from June 2000 have survived more or less unscathed, the numbering is different and, as will be seen, there are a few changes of substance.

1.2 It would be unusual for the court to consider making one type of order only. That might in fact be the result of a particular case, but the court must have regard to the overall position, and the result of most applications is that a combination of orders is made. The court must take an overview of the whole case.

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