10 costly mistakes made during divorce by Gemma Hope
27th September 2011
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1. Being disorganised

The more organised you are about your finances the easier you will find it is to gather the information necessary to resolve the division of the matrimonial assets. This can be difficult in some circumstances, for instance, if your spouse has been the one that has controlled the purse strings over the years and dealt with all financial matters. However, now is the time to empower yourself, get organised and start working out a budget in order to move on with your life.

2. Not considering mediation

Mediation is usually quicker and more cost effective than court proceedings and can allow a couple to reach their own solution tailored to their needs rather than having a solution imposed upon them. In certain circumstances, the agreement can subsequently be converted into a Consent Order and submitted to the Court to be made legally binding, often without the need for anyone to actually have to attend Court.

3. Instructing an aggressive  solicitor to punish your spouse

Overly and unnecessary aggressive solicitors in family matters will just cause emotional aggravation and increase your legal fees, high legal fees just mean there is then less money left to be divided up. Use a solicitor to help you reach a fair, legally binding settlement, not as a (very expensive) means of punishing your spouse (and your wallet) in the process. Choose a solicitor who is a member of Resolution www.resolution.org.uk, they will be committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes and will follow a Code of Practice that requires lawyers to deal with each other in a civilised way and to encourage their clients to put their differences aside and reach fair agreements.

4. Forgetting about the tax man

Work with a tax accountant and financial planner to minimise the amount of tax you will have to pay during the separation and after divorce. Some people put off seeking legal and financial advice at the outset and reach agreements between themselves following separation only to find out at a later date that the agreements have created tax liabilities.

5. Not considering pension entitlements

Divorce affects pension rights. It is important to ensure that any pension funds are taken into account with any settlement. You need to ensure that the value of the funds for the purpose of the settlement are accurately calculated and consider whether advice is needed from an actuary.

6. Forgetting about inflation

Costs of living rise over time, this needs to be considered otherwise what may appear to be a fair settlement today may not be so fair in the future. When agreeing on maintenance payments it is important to ensure the terms of any settlement link to increases in inflation.

7. Not being willing to disclose financial information

Before you can be advised of an appropriate settlement, and indeed before the Court can approve any such settlement, there needs to be full disclosure of the financial assets. There is no avoiding this. Attempts to hide, conceal or dissipate assets will cost you dearly and the courts have strong powers to deal with such actions. Help yourself; be open and honest from the outset.

8. Letting your emotions take over

When going through a divorce you will experience many mixed emotions which can sometimes blur rational and logical thinking. The best thing is to be aware of these issues as they arise and address them as soon as possible. It can be difficult to manage both the practicalities and the emotional impact of the relationship breakdown.  It is, therefore, important that you get the right advice and support from skilled professionals such as therapists, counsellors or life coaches. Getting the right emotional support in place will make dealing with the practical and financial matters less stressful.

9. Not making a Will

First talking about divorce and now death, what is all this doom and gloom about! Well, i'm afraid you do need to think about the practicalities.  When a marriage breaks down it is prudent to review your Will to ensure that on your death your loved ones are provided for, this is particularly relevant if you have children with someone other than your spouse otherwise if you were to die before the divorce is finalised your spouse will benefit and your children could be left with nothing.

10. Being an ostrich

If your marriage has broken down, for whatever reason, and marriage counselling or therapy hasnâÂÂt worked then you need to focus on moving things on. Burying your head in the sand and ignoring correspondence from your spouse, their solicitors or the court will not do anything to help you; it is likely just to cause you more stress and financial costs. With the right help and support from friends, family and professionals a relationship break up can be the perfect time to make positive changes and move forward with your life (see it's not all doom and gloom!).

Instructing professionals such as mediators, solicitors, accountants, actuaries and financial planners is a good investment for the future and will make the whole process of separating less stressful, simplified and the benefit will outweigh any costs you spend on fees.

About the Author

Gemma H

Member since: 15th February 2012

Collaborative Lawyer helping families through separation. Rock climbing, yoga, cycling, pilates, triathlon, outdoor adventure enthusiast. Views are my own.

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