Some people, when they separate, try to wring every penny out of their former partner.
You will have heard the phrase; ‘I’m going to take him/her for everything he /she has got’
There is a public perception that fighting tooth and nail, (with the help of a Rottweiler type divorce lawyer) is the norm.
The media seem to give an impression, certainly in high-profile cases that everything is high conflict and inevitably divorce cases are going to end up in court. Actually there is an element of ‘fake news’ about this perception. Experienced family lawyers, often trained in Collaboration and Mediation, encourage their clients to sit round a table and sort things out. Talking about the situation, as opposed to writing formal legal letters, often moves difficult situations forward. This is particularly true when the case involves the welfare of children but also works well in financial cases.
The idea is to sort everything out and enter into a Minute of Agreement, which is a contract between the parties that sets out what is to happen. There is, however, another side to all of this which is right that the other end of the spectrum. Sometimes, despite advice from friends or relatives to the contrary, a person who has separated just wants ‘everything to be sorted out’ and to get on with their lives.
They do not see the point of consulting a divorce lawyer as it will just be expensive and they don’t want to argue with the their estranged partner because they don’t like the confrontation or it might be upsetting for the children.
All of this while understandable has to be tempered with realism.
Quite a good test is to move an imaginary three years into the future and look back and say to yourself. Was that fair? Did I get a reasonable share of all the assets that we had?
Or did I sell myself short for an easy life?
Three examples spring to mind to illustrate the point.
A couple separate and the biggest asset is the matrimonial home.They are speaking to each other. They want to sell the house and decide that they don’t need expensive family lawyers and they will consultant a conveyancing solicitor. The house is sold and the proceeds split equally. Later they fall out because the wife discovers the husband had shares in a company he never told her about. She still has a claim but it is now a lot more complicated.
A couple separate because the husband has been having an affair. He feels guilty. He decides to let his wife have the lion’s share of the assets. He later regrets that.
A couple separate and the wife takes the view that her husband’s pension is his property. Never mind what the law says why should I claim that? Years down the line, with no pension provision herself, she regrets that.
The advice has to be that before you reach an agreement with your estranged partner about a financial settlement speak to an experienced family lawyer who specialises in financial issues.
You might be told that what is proposed is fine (and a straightforward agreement can be drafted) or that for one of many reasons there needs to be a thorough investigation before an agreement can be finalised
Don’t lose out.