/ Divorce / Ancillary relief

What are ancillary relief proceedings?

One of the main sources of disagreement during divorces is how to split family finances.

“Ancillary relief proceedings” are legal proceedings that attempt to find a solution when a divorcing couple can't reach agreement about their money.


This guide outlines general topics you should be thinking about if you want to get a divorce in Northern Ireland. But it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, you should contact a specialist divorce solicitor for advice on your specific circumstances.

What are ancillary relief proceedings?

If you and your ex cannot agree how to split your finances after divorce, either of you can apply to the court to start ancillary relief proceedings.

In essence, you set out to the court what you would like to see happen, your ex will set out what they think should happen, and the court will make a binding decision.

The main law in this area can be found in Part Three of the Matrimonial Causes (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.

If you think you will have to resort to ancillary relief proceedings in order to bring about a fair financial settlement, it is critical that you start collecting the evidence you need for your divorce as soon as possible.

It is highly likely that you will be asked to disclose:

  • your full financial history from the start of the marriage (at least)
  • details of all property you own
  • details of any disposals/sales of property (and any profits/losses made
  • details of all kinds of income you receive
  • what liabilities you have
  • bank statements, bills, pension documents, examples of typical utility bills, etc
  • outgoings connected with any children, etc.

It is a big job to gather up all this information, so the sooner you get started, the better.

You can find more information about ancillary relief applications in a later section of this guide. But before that, it’s important to note that some people, they cannot wait for the divorce to come through before sorting out certain parts of their finances.

Perhaps one spouse has been the sole source of income in the family. In such a case, the other spouse may require financial assistance during the period between the relationship breaking down and the divorce being finalised.

So we’ll talk about how this can be dealt with in the next section.

The above article is part of our guide on how to get a divorce in Northern Ireland.

If you are thinking about getting a divorce, you should get in touch with a Northern Ireland specialist divorce solicitor who will be able to provide advice tailored to your own personal circumstances.

If you have any questions, you are very welcome to get in touch.

All the best,

The Team @ Lightlaw
Every effort is made to keep this guide up to date. Although it is not to be regarded as legal advice, we strive to make sure the information is helpful, accurate and practical. If you are a Northern Ireland divorce solicitor and have spotted an inaccuracy, you can submit a suggested change.
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