Going through divorce or separation can be hard and there are lots of things to consider. We are often asked for advice regarding the former marital home, pensions and other assets accumulated during the course of the relationship.
Neil Remnant, head of family law at JMP Solicitors, said: “To ease conflict in the often-turbulent situation of divorce, it is useful to seek legal guidance when it comes to settling finances and making arrangements at an already difficult time.
“We’ve compiled a list of valuable considerations to minimise conflict in divorce or separation, from negotiation advice to come to mutually beneficial conclusions, to managing outgoings when it comes to the division of matrimonial assets.”
The following suggestions may make it easier to reach an amicable financial settlement without the need to attend costly court hearings.
- Try to reach agreement with your ex wherever possible
It is important to try and reach an agreement with your ex in the first instance. Mediation can help you stay focused on the issues to be determined and reduce the chances of the discussion getting heated. If you can reach an agreement between yourselves, with the help of a qualified mediator the process will be much less costly, less stressful and quicker. If it is not possible to reach agreement with your spouse and you end up in court you should consider the possibility that a judge may impose a decision on you that neither of you would have wished for.
- Provide full and frank financial disclosure
Always provide full and frank financial disclosure – the courts expect parties to exchange financial information voluntarily in order that each party is fully aware of their spouses financial position. Before any offers of settlement can be made it is important to identify the assets available for division, any liabilities and above all the future needs of each party and the children of the family if applicable.
- Don’t try to hurt your spouse financially
It is advisable to try and remain amicable wherever possible. However much you may feel justified at the time it is never a good idea to hide or dispose of assets, run up debts on joint accounts or freeze joint bank accounts. This sort of behaviour will always backfire on you!
- Check whether you are eligible to claim benefits
The courts expect each party to maximise their income wherever possible, so it is important to check that you are receiving any benefits you may be entitled to. The courts have to consider whether a clean break is achievable and want to see parties become financially independent as soon as practicable.
- Make a list of your outgoings
It is recommended that you write down a list of outgoings. It is often extremely difficult when the income that used to fund one household has to be stretched to two. You need to be clear about how much you will realistically need to be able to pay for essentials and what you may need to cut back on, even if only in the short term. Once you have a clear grasp on your needs moving forward you can negotiate more effectively.
- The court will always consider the children first
When determining the fairest way to split assets, the courts will consider various factors including the age of the parties, the duration of the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage and the contributions made by each of you but their first consideration is always the welfare of any minor child of the family and ensuring their needs are met.
- Always seek legal advice
Financial matters can be complicated, so it’s recommended that you seek legal advice to help reach an agreement with your ex and ensure you have a solicitor convert your agreement into a consent order to be approved by the courts. While many divorce proceedings are dealt with out of court, it is important to seek legal advice to ensure you are receiving a fair deal regarding the separation of assets. A clean break consent order will dismiss any claims your ex may have against you in the future.
For further information regarding a family matter, please email email@example.com or call 01476 565 295 and speak to our family team.