The Finance Zone.co.uk Divorce Guide 2018
For the last twenty years or so I have been making promises to clients, promises that have so far not come to much as I simply have not had the time or the inclination to create this guide.
Until now, when relationships seem to be over in shorter and shorter time frames and stress levels are increasing. It feels right to release something that I know will help.
It may not be what you want to hear, but it is the truth and will help you solve some problems.
In the main what you are about to read are the ‘dark arts’ the sneaky, back door tricks and tips to give you the edge over ex. That doesn’t mean you can use what you read to be malicious, that’d be wrong. But it will provide you with a heads up.
Divorce is never easy, but you can make it easier.
The facts about divorce are there for everyone to see. According to the ONS the chances of your marriage lasting are not that great. It seems to make sense then that more of us understand how the law works and what is important when a marriage comes to an end. It’s this that I wanted to address.
According to Amazon, based on a recent search there are some 44,000 books available in relation to divorce; many of these will be complete rubbish, and many of the others will be written by celebrity lawyers with much more of a profile to gain by having a book published on the subject.
My objective for pulling together this information has been to ‘nutshell’ what is required, to tell you how things really are and to give you some hands on straight talk, hopefully allowing you to move forward in a positive but controlled way, free from hype and legal speak. I am not sure if I have done that; but I am happy for you to judge.
My name is Richard Smith and over the past twenty nine years I have worked as an independent financial adviser within my own practice. I am a qualified financial consultant. For the last ten years or so I have specialised in financial mediation during divorce.
My work helps you get the financial settlement that is right for you and not one that is forced on you by your ex or a local District Judge. Importantly my work with you will save you thousands in legal cost, but it also saves time. Time is always more important than money!
My experience with divorce mediation is extensive – I really have seen it all. Husbands and wives that seem to want to ‘twist the knife’ and legal professionals that just want to perpetuate their income.
I now own and manage Money Trainers, an organisation that teaches people how to manage and improve their own finances using the same tools that were once only available to a low number of industry insiders.
The skills and expertise required to manage and control your own investments and your own financial planning are learned skills; like learning to drive a car or operate a computer. More importantly these skills are based around a number of core principles. Once you know what these are it becomes very easy.
I watched my own Mother go through all of this in the late 60’s and then of course the Solicitor was the only one who arrived at the end of the process a winner, strangely enough not much has changed since the 1960’s.
Since the changes to legal aid in 2013/14 there is a lack of financial support from the state for divorce. Legal aid that was plain hard to get is now very limited if not impossible. If you have suffered domestic abuse or your case involves child abduction legal aid is still available.
In the following few pages I would like to give you a blueprint which will certainly save you time and, without a doubt save you some money.
If you are about to split from your ex or even if you are in the middle of the process there are some valuable tips and shortcuts coming.
There a couple of things you should be aware of in this article..
It is not complete – things change all of the time and updates will be provided as and when.
Any spelling errors or typing mistakes are placed there to ensure that some people have something to do. I am often getting emails correcting the copy. Joking aside it’s work in progress and is often updated in a rush. It’s more important to me that the information is out there with a couple of tiping irrors, rather than stuck on my desk. Once this work is complete it will be proofed and edited.
I urge you to focus on your emotional well being during your separation and eventual divorce. Your mental state will be important to you. Controlling what is going on in your mind is half the battle.
The only winners in any divorce are the legal profession, no one else can win. But there are some steps you can take to minimise your costs and get a settlement, that’s right for you.
Of course you should be grateful your marriage is over now. You could have been a further 10 years down the road before it fell apart and another decade in anyone’s life is a long time. That’s not to say you should celebrate the end of your marriage – but finding out bad news sooner, is always best. It could of course be just me that thinks that!
Personally I have been happily married for over twenty years however this is my second attempt.
This guide will help you through your initial separation and will help you prepare for what’s to come.
Tools you will need.
A4 pad, sold in most Supermarkets for a couple of quid. This will be your most valuable resource, keep it close and use it to make notes and all those little thoughts that will keep coming – brain farts as I call them.
Little snippets of a conversation from the past that seemed irrelevant then, could be very important now. Mentions of investments or deals. Make a note of them, use your notes as a big mind map to help you think of things that will be helpful at a later stage. Don’t rely on your memory.
As a preference I recommend you use one of those A4 pads that has tabs for each section of the planning you will be starting very shortly.
Keep this in safe place it will eventually become a trusted friend. Write down anything you feel is worth making a note of. There is a reason I have suggested writing instead of typing – something happens inside your brain when you write things down.
Notes, Aha’s, light bulb moments and things you need to work on or get more information about. Everything should be noted down that you think may come in handy. When you should you start this? Now! Whilst the thought is fresh.
You will also need my contact details:
firstname.lastname@example.org in case you want to email me or to book a consultation. Support is provided over at www.moneytrainers.co.uk/support .Support is provided from the site, over the phone and face to face for paid subscribers.
I also recommend the CamScanner application for your Android/Iphone to collate documents electronically.
Please note. You are breaking the law if you read email, login to bank accounts or open mail once you have officially separated, or one or more of you has stated an intention to leave/separate/divorce.
But there is nothing stopping you from collating information about joint finances up until that point if you are married. Something I encourage you to do.
Finding the truth.
Sometimes this can turn you into some kind of ‘Sherlock Holmes’ type character, in that you will need to do some digging in order to find those things that may well have been hidden from you.
Using that trusty A4 pad will help, in that as you remember things, and you will, simply make a note.
Of course you might feel a little sad making notes all of the time. Trust me it will be worthwhile in the end.
There is often a spiral around divorce and the use of outside stimulants. Look, all of them are mood enhancers, drink wine in a bad mood and it makes the mood worse. Nothing that comes from the outside of your mind/body can ever make you happy long term. Fact!
Nothing you get, buy or acquire will ever make you happy. You can choose to be happy, it has to come from within. Think about that when you are about to use alcohol as a crutch. That glass of wine or worse a bottle will soon start to cause problems.
Do not start to use any of these when your marriage is failing, it might give you a small amount of breathing space, time to forget but once it wears off you will be back where you started, depressed, pissed off and worse hungover.
I am not here tell you what to do and feel, just wanted to warn you. Nothing from the outside can make you feel better, once your split starts to take shape you are going to feel a lot worse or maybe not. You can choose.
That said, the time is coming (at some point) you are going to feel more alive, more in control of your own life than you ever have before. Remember that thought when you’re having a bad day.
Over the coming weeks and months you will be on a bit of a Roller Coaster ride and there is nothing you can do about it. Taking some control and sticking to a plan with a process will help. Routines are important for all of us.
Especially around meal times and rest times, if you can make sure you maintain these. At least you will feel that one part of your world is controlled. Remember that these bad (annoyance, hurt, betrayal, just plain bloody frustration) feelings will pass at some stage.
How long it will take, who knows. However your attitude towards it must be consistent and positive. You do choose to feel like crap, and be on an emotional roller coaster. Just choose to feel different.
There a couple of really easy exercises you can do to change your state. Put in a support ticket at www.moneytrainers.co.uk/support and ask for the Mind Exercises and we’ll get them out to you.
It may seem that nothing is going to take away your bad days, however like a crying baby, for each minute it wails and screams you are one minute closer to it giving up and falling asleep. For every bad day you have you are getting close to finally being free of them. Focus on that.
At some stage in the coming few months and possibly years all of this will be behind you. All of this will be in the dim and distant past and this thought alone will keep you going.
Each day you should be taking some action, making some notes, deciding on a course of action which will eventually end up with you leading a new life, your life.
Provided you move forward every day slowly you will see that your future is bright, take a step and repeat.
Health – if you are a little overweight, eating the wrong kind of food, stop it. Now may be good time to start making some changes.
Fat cannot live with exercise, and dropping a few pounds will give you a lift. Walk over the park, along a woodland path or similar will lift your spirits and is great for creating some thinking time. Oh and there is the fat thing.
Mind your language. Don’t blow things up into a massive drama. Your ex may be the biggest (bunch of swear words) ever, and this will go around inside your head and agitate you. Calm it down – replace (bunch of swear words) with wally, or idiot.
Don’t make a drama out of it. He could be the biggest AH (Arsehole) under the sun, however by calling him a wally, instead of…. well you know.
You can start to shift how you feel, and feelings will keep you up at night. Replace – “I am so effin’ annoyed with that complete AH, I could beat him, throw him into a ditch and slowly fill it with water until he drowns”, with.. I am a bit peeved with him today.
You’ll be surprised about how much easier it is to come down from peeved. Make a little time for you, you deserve it there is a load of hard work ahead.
We are Human Beings, sometimes just being is all you need. Try and make an hour of each day just for you. An hour of power, not last thing at night. First thing in the morning, get up an hour earlier, if not an hour then 30 minutes. If not 30 minutes then 15 minutes to start with. Everyone has 15 minutes.
English law lays down a good number of rules and guidance in relation to the separation of the family finances.
Often these seem variable, and they have to be. There are no circumstances that are the same. The law therefore has to be flexible. The law is fair but it also has to be practical.
The offer from the legal profession is this.
You appoint them to provide you with help for a process that an adult is more than capable of dealing with. And charge you a ‘pirates purse’ for managing the process for you.
Just think for a moment, here you are having purchased a home, learned how to drive, negotiated with your children, mother in law, mother or boss. But for some reason you can’t sort your own divorce out!
You need to be grown up and negotiate. Do not expect your Solicitor to do it for you, or you will surely end up with a deal that is not good for you, and an expensive one at that.
Of course at some point you will need to seek some kind of legal advice but you will be surprised how easy it really is to ‘sort your own divorce’ or at least get a long way down the path at little cost.
This information and the supporting detail will at least get to you a starting point and you can then appoint a Solicitor to put in place the final parts outlining exactly how stuff will be split and then getting it ‘rubber stamped’ by the court.
Everything will be dealt with fairly it’s the way that the law is. Now any settlement may not be the one you want, but it will be fair.
Just because the ‘fat gal down the pub’ tells you that “I got nuffin when he went, that’s the way it works” does not make it so. Choose your Counsel wisely (which translated means be careful whose advice you accept).
Of course a DIY option is not for everyone. If it is then this manual will help you on your way to making some decisions or least capping your costs.
I don’t wish to put any of the Legal Profession down but in the main they do not add much value to the process of separation, and in my opinion often just fan the flames in a process that is already burning out of control.
Every single thing raised in this report is about helping you reduce your costs, or at least allowing control to be held by yourself and no one else.
Remember though at all stages you and your ex will need to finally decide who is getting what and when. The overriding two factors considered by the law is the children and fairness, along with a clean break where possible.
You do not need a Solicitor to tell you that you should discuss it like a grown up, which of course you need to do.
It is possible to cap the costs of your divorce by being a little grown up about things and doing some of the paperwork yourself. It’s easy people have been doing it for years.
I would strongly recommend that if you think money is going to be tight, then you think very carefully about giving your Solicitor an open mandate to write letters and act on your behalf. It will get you to the poorhouse very quickly.
Below I have outlined some actual expenses from a case I have been working on.
Initial Letter to Husbands Solicitor (HS) £120 Reply from HS to Wife’s Solicitor (WS) £115 Letter from HS to WS outlining grounds £120 Letter from WS to Wife confirming grounds £115 Telephone call from WS to Wife £20 Letter to HS from WS (as per tele call) £115 Call from HS to WS £25 Letter to WS from HS £115
Total £745 Total inc VAT £845
In this scenario costs of £845 have been racked up and they have not got you anywhere. Your Solicitors have had a conversation that you and your partner should have had.
At one point you were madly in love. Keep a dialogue or the Solicitors will win. As I keep on saying the only winners in divorce cases are the legal profession, but only if you let them.
Mediation (talking to resolve issues) is now mandatory pre-court but even this costs. Legal aid has also been reduced recently so actually talking to your ex is something you should do, or you will be forced to do it with a third party and pay for the privilege.
You got drunk with your spouse, had sex with them and shared your innermost secrets, and now you can’t even look at each other. Well, it’s like this. If you do talk and agree your situation will improve very quickly.
If you don’t it will go on for years and cost a fortune. Remember where you read it first.
That’s all you own and all you have. Will be shared equally, if you entered into any agreements before you married than your situation is a little more complicated.
Just remember that the law wants to come to a fair settlement for all parties. That’s the way it is. There is no compensation for the end of marriage, but you will get what is yours. You may not get the house, the cars or the business. But you will end up with a fair settlement.
No matter what. Your negotiations (and with my help if you need it) will ensure fairness. Of course this is supported by the law, in that the law wants a fair settlement. English law is fair about divorce in that it lays down a series of tested rules which are fair. Fair to both parties in the separation.
It also has a priority to ensure that any children of your marriage are looked after firstly and before any other settlements start to take place.
These two statements mean that no matter how you present your case or how much information is provided these two principles will not change. The key to getting a settlement that works for you is about interpretation and your own personal needs, which are different to everyone else.
There is no compensation for the end of a marriage, and there is nothing specific to state that the assets of the marriage are shared equally, just a common assumption that everything is split equally. Fairness.
Find out what you own, and what you owe. What’s coming in and what’s going out.Store, collate copy, note add up. What you don’t know, you don’t know. Make sure you find out everything, ideally before you decide to split.
You will be asked to complete a Form E which is a disclosure document (you can search online for one) both of you will need to complete one of these and disclose everything. Failure to disclose the true situation is a criminal offence.
If you think something is missing from your ex’s form you can question them or provide supporting evidence based on your work in the lead up to the break.
I recommended you start as early as possible in the process, look when it feels like the relationship is rocky or breaking down, start gathering information now before passwords to online bank accounts get changed and information starts to go missing. Which of course it will. It’s also very illegal to start digging once the announcement is made.
Collate details of everything you think may be relevant and record it using your A4 pad or if you want something more fluid use a Spreadsheet from one of the online services, Google Docs is a good place to start this means that a permanent record will be held elsewhere.
Your local Social Security Office or online, or even one of the local Citizen Advice Bureaus type operations will outline for you what your benefits are or could be. If it looks like your Financial Settlement is not sufficient to live on you may need to have a State Supplement.
You will need to make a plan at some stage to return to work. Now this decision is likely to have an effect. So considerations here are about possible part-time work, possible mornings or afternoons, pooling child minding with other local families or the use of Pre School and After School clubs which can be heaven sent.
It is likely your former spouse will want to reduce any payments made or want to reconsider some changes to your arrangements.
You will have to live with these or make arrangements to get the case back into Court in order to review any plans in place.
Certainly, in my experience, there are issues around returning to work, and a simple plan both pre and post returning can be very helpful. I guess this is the same for the rest of your Divorce in all fairness.
There is a good chance that getting a new mortgage without any confirmed income is going to be to difficult (in any economic climate)and even more so in the one we find us in now (2014. Do you need one, what are the alternatives?
If you have any debts or liabilities you should make sure these are considered carefully. How will they be funded?
Pensions obviously have to be taken into account when two people split.
An easy calculation to make in order to asses the value of Pensions and is this.
If you or your Partner have a Final Salary Pension, the value of the Pension in cash terms is usually around 20 x the level of income at Retirement.
Of course this is only a ball park amount, and you should apply to the ‘scheme trustee’s’ in order to get a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV). They will provide you with at least one of these without cost.
Other Pensions are valued at Investment Valuation, or Fund Valuation, and will form part of the overall assets and be shared or offset accordingly.
Future Pension Contributions could also be a factor and taken into account if these are made by either partner’s employer.
If in doubt, and this is strongly recommended you should seek to have this area of the family finances reviewed by a qualified individual.
I can help you with this. It may well be you will need an Actuarial report which will cost you around £350 to a report into your Pension Options, many will do this and provide guidance to both parties.
It’s this simple (very broad brush) if the Pension can be separated into some form of Personal Arrangement it may well be worth your while doing so – you will then have to accept the investment risk on the Pension.
The Finance Zone service will highlight all of the low cost pension providers in the market place for you. Please note that some pensions provide for a guaranteed pension at retirement date, and these are valuable.
Don’t rush to make a decision. If you don’t know ask.
If you opt to have an ‘earmarking order’ where part of your Partner’s Pension is earmarked for you, this will provide you with a level of benefit however you may have to wait until your Partner retires before you can get access to any of the fund.
Offsetting – this ensures a clean break, in that the value of the Pension(s) are taken into account by splitting other assets (i.e. the marital home or other investments).
If the cash equivalent value of the Pension is £50k, then you would agree to leave the Pension out any settlement, in return for an extra £50k equity from the former marital home.
Some sample information is available on request, submit a ticket at www.moneytrainers.co.uk/support.
Ask for some budget information. Further if you have not done so preparing a budget may be helpful for you to have. At some stage in the not so distant future will need to know how your finances are looking and how much money you need.
No good realising you need to rely on State Benefits and then finding out you are not able to live on those benefits after the event. Information use now will save a lot of pain a little later.
These are important, I do not have to tell you they should not be used as pawns, should not be used to do any dirty work or put in a position where loyalty is divided.
It’s not fair. I have seen this happen. Please don’t do it!
The Court Service and District Judge’s that oversee divorce in England and Wales will also want to make sure that dependent children are cared for. It’s an overriding factor in any settlement.
The primary concerns of the law are protecting dependent children and ensuring fair division of assets. They will at all times look to find a clean break settlement.
In every instance of divorce these are the people that will probably suffer the most, and of course the focus of the law is on them.
No matter how old, they will be affected. Of course this does not mean you spoil them in order to make up for only having one parent now, but you should consider their needs and opinions when making any plans.
Importantly I would recommend you do not discuss the finer points of your divorce in front of them for two reasons.
You absolutely must keep a relationship with the other parent despite wanting to have them thrown into a cold, ditch half filled with water on freezing winter night after being beaten and whipped by a crowd on onlookers including yourself.
You may think it but do not say it!
In all divorce cases if you cannot agree times and dates for access, you will be given them via the local District Judge which will not be the times you want.
Therefore grow up and have a conversation with your ex in order to sort this out now, sooner rather than later. Any agreement will not suit you both all of the time.
Live with it, however please be prepared to negotiate as and when changes occur.
Richard Smith is available to provide specific advice and guidance ‘real world’ help to all of you who are thinking about divorce or want to get some guidance before you split.
You can contact me at www.thefinancezone.co.uk or