Getting divorced at any time is stressful and difficult, but here are five tried and tested tips to help you survive the experience and get through to the other side feeling financially secure and ready for the future.
Don’t Assume You Can’t Afford Good Legal Advice
Even when there’s a considerable amount of money in a family, it doesn’t necessarily mean the wife can access it easily. Now that Legal Aid has been more or less abolished, wives are asking their husbands to advance money for their legal costs, and if the request is not viewed sympathetically (turkeys voting for Christmas springs to mind), they can apply to the court for an order forcing their husbands to do so.
There are strict rules that need to be followed, but this is an increasingly popular source of funding and lawyers will help with the forms and make the case to the court. There are also banks and other lenders who will provide funds that are repaid once a settlement has been achieved.
Decide Where To Get Divorced
London is known – with considerable justification – as the Divorce Capital of the World. Why is that Spanish/Nigerian/Swedish woman married to her Spanish/Nigerian/Swedish billionaire husband wedded to the idea that their main family home was a three bedroom flat in Kensington? Because her divorce settlement here will almost certainly be greater than in the country where she actually lives.
Her husband, of course, argues the complete opposite. After all, he spent hardly any time in the UK other than school, university and a handful of years with his last wife… You get the picture. So be careful if your Scottish husband disappears north of the border when your relationship’s going through a rocky patch. Yes, it’s a little known fact that divorce settlements in Scotland are far less generous for wives than in the rest of the UK.
Read more: A mysterious divorce and lingering death provoke a legal wrangle
Don’t Forget The Pensions
Make sure all the family’s assets are taken into account and properly valued before reaching a settlement. This includes pensions. Pensions providers are obliged to produce valuations for divorcing couples, but there can still be pitfalls.
Some types of pension are regarded as more valuable than others by pension experts, so don’t necessarily accept the valuation at face value. And women tend to live longer than men so they need more than 50 per cent of the fund if they are to have the same income as their husbands in retirement.
Get The Court’s Approval For Your Financial Settlement
Couples assume that a financial agreement reached between them when they divorce is binding, but not so in divorce if there’s no court order. Most agreements reached are binding as long as they’re not the result of threats or fraud. But it can be a dangerous assumption in divorce.
Consider the case of the husband and wife who divorced in 2005. The wife kept the family home and investments. The husband was happy because he kept his highly successful building business. By 2012 after the worst financial crisis in living memory, no-one is building in that part of the country and the husband’s business finally collapses.
He applies to the Family court for a financial settlement and the court divides up the family home and the investments between them. So beware: without a court-approved Consent Order, there’s always the risk that a financial agreement can be revisited.
Take The Long View
Divorce is an important process, but try not to let it take over your life. And don’t expect to feel that the process is fair. Few people come out of divorce feeling they have got a better deal than they should have done.
Keep away from the court if you can by trying to reach a negotiated settlement through solicitors or mediation or both. Court process often proves to be a blunt instrument: courts are inefficient and not all Judges are clever.
Above all, try and see the big picture; this is about your future, not your past.
See Spear’s top divorce lawyers
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