For people separating after 25 years or more of marriage the main item on the agenda is sorting out the finances.
Although the grounds of divorce are important most people will be happy to wait a year or two and then divorce by consent.
The children may well be grown and away and issues such as residence and contact are no longer relevant.
For some clients, the finances may not be complicated and can be sorted out by the couple themselves with Lawyers formalising any agreement, which keeps stress levels (and fees) to a minimum.
For other clients, separating after so many years have passed is more complicated.
Naturally, after all that time the couple’s finances have become entwined.
All sorts of different assets may have been acquired and different debts incurred.
Decisions have to be made about the family home. Should it be sold? Should it be transferred? Is there still a mortgage? Should the mortgage be paid off? Can either party afford to take over the mortgage on their own? Who will be responsible for the ongoing mortgage payments.?
Do both spouses work? Do they earn the same amount or does one earn far more than the other? Should the person with the better-paid job pay maintenance to the other and, if so, for how long.
Do both parties have a pension? Are the pensions the same size or will one person be a lot better off in retirement? If pension values are unequal can a pension be shared to level out the values?
Are there other assets? Does one person own a business? Does the business have value?
Should the business be sold? What happens if both parties work in the same business and they separate. Will they still work together? Will they still want to work together?
Are there savings or investments? Whose name are they in? Does it matter?
Do the couple have debt and owe money? Should the debt be paid off if that is possible? If not, who has responsibility for the debt going forward?
So many questions. Family Lawyers will tell you where you stand from a legal perspective. It is important to understand what your rights are.
On the other hand, all these questions involve finances. Lawyers are experts in the law but not necessarily in financial matters.
Family lawyers will have built experience in what happens from a financial perspective when people separate but will readily concede that they are not financial experts nor are they qualified to provide financial advice.
For that type of advice, people need to consult an Independent Financial Advisor.
And not just any Financial Advisor.
Ideally, clients should seek advice from a Financial Adviser who has experience in working with divorcing couples and Family Lawyers.
Many people have real concerns as to how they are going to cope financially in the future.
They are so used to living with another person and sharing their worries and responsibilities.
When the time comes to fend for yourself and plan for the next part of your life, professional help is needed to make sure that the financial settlement is fair from a legal point of view and a financial standpoint.
Fortunately more and more Family Lawyers are working with Financial advisers to get a good deal for their clients, provide reassurance and help clients make financial plans for the future.