This area is often the hardest to resolve when a marriage ends. Unless a couple are very comfortably off, they are likely to face financial challenges on divorce. ‘Making a quart out of a pint pot’ sums up the problem for many people.
Fortunately, at Goughs we have a wealth of experience in advising our clients in this difficult area and guiding them to a solution. We always give realistic advice, as there is nothing worse than creating false hopes. We are also highly skilled in finding the best route to addressing each individual client’s situation – whether that is via the collaborative process, constructive negotiations via solicitors or (usually as a last resort) the formal court route. We also frequently refer our clients to mediation.
For us to provide you with reliable advice, we need to have a clear picture of the couple’s financial circumstances. It’s very important to disclose fully the facts and figures relating to each person’s income, assets, liabilities and pensions, supported by documentation. Having said that, we are very aware that not all our clients want to work in this way: you may have reached agreement with your spouse and be seeking our input without full documentary disclosure or wanting legal advice in any detail, and we’re happy to provide support in whatever way works best for you.
Once we have a clear picture of the family finances, we can explain how the law would be likely to consider your position. Again, we don’t always take that approach: in the collaborative process in particular, the focus is strongly on the issues affecting the whole family and not taking fixed positions or bargaining.
Essentially the law searches for a solution to family finances that is fair. Its first consideration is always the welfare of any children under 18. After that, there is a detailed list of factors which may be relevant to each individual case. Above all, it is important to try to meet financial need and to avoid discrimination between the spouses: if one has been the homemaker and the other the breadwinner, these roles are given equal importance. Every case is also subject to a cross-check against ‘the yardstick of equality’.
In ‘big money’ cases, generous financial settlements in recent years in favour of the party who wasn’t directly responsible for accumulation of family wealth have led to London being dubbed ‘the divorce capital of the world’. The legal principles behind those settlements apply with equal force to all divorcing couples.
Of course, each individual case is different, and at Goughs we work hard to ensure that each of our clients achieves a financial settlement that is appropriate to their own circumstances and reflects their own priorities. We’re also very aware of the importance to our family law clients of reviewing other issues (such as Wills, taxation and joint ownership of property) and ensure we explain clearly the options you will have in relation to protecting your position in these areas.