New Year is a time when many of us focus on making a fresh start. Perhaps it is that, combined with the aftermath of the pressures of Christmas, which makes so many couples think about separation or divorce during the festive period.
January is one of the busiest times for family lawyers, so The Family Law Company has launched a new video to help married couples that are considering divorce, to think about their finances.
But for couples that are thinking about separating, it doesn’t have to end in divorce as The Family Law Company is also here to help and to give advice to those who need it.
Rachel Buckley, business development director, and David Cobern, director of legal services, in a meeting
Couples may want to divorce because their marriage is no longer working, if they have fallen out of love or if their lives have gone in different directions. It is very important to avoid creating unnecessary conflict between spouses by including reams of personal and potentially hurtful comments in a divorce petition.
Spiteful comments are more likely to make proceedings drag on, which is more expensive and stressful for both parties. Hostile exchanges around the divorce petition do not create a good foundation for arrangements following a divorce and, often, law firms sadly sometimes see people trying to ‘score points’ when they are dealing with finances, property or arrangements for children.
Giving couples the option of a ‘no fault’ divorce would promote cooperation and avoid some of these damaging outcomes, which can affect the whole family. There is no easy way to tell your children that you are thinking about filing for divorce, and there are no hard and fast rules.
Every family is different, and much will depend on the relationship between family members before the separation. However, there are steps you can take to make the whole experience as positive as it can be.
There’s no ‘right’ way to tell children you are separating, but it’s important to pick the right time
How do you tell your children?
There is no ‘right’ way to tell children you are separating, and bear in mind you may feel nervous, upset and confused. If possible, tell them gradually, and not at the last minute.
They will need time to adjust to the news and will want to talk more about it with you. Try to avoid the beginning of the school term or during GCSE exams, bedtimes or when children are tired. Choose a time when you know you can stay with them for as long as they need you to.
Couples need to think about what debts they have, such as outstanding loans and mortgages
How do you split the finances?
The next question is, ‘What happens to your finances?’ The Family Law Company advises couples to break down their finances by thinking about things in order of priority. In the immediate term, you need to think about what debts you have, such as outstanding loans and your mortgage.
Remember, if the mortgage is in joint names, you remain liable for the full amount – even if your ex-partner used to pay. Try preparing a budget based on what you and your children need. Think about school fees – if you are not working, you may need some additional support.
Law firms sadly sometimes see people trying to ‘score points’ when they are dealing with finances, property or arrangements for children
The Family Law Company’s 11 steps to staying solvent after a divorce
Make sure you know where you stand financially. Calculate all your monthly outgoings, especially if your partner pays any loans on your behalf.
Ensure you have access to all joint accounts, including those online, so you can keep an eye on balances and continue to make transactions.
Some couples share login details, so it is important to change passwords on any personal accounts you don’t want your partner to continue to have access to.
A bad credit record or rating can affect you both. Do your best to maintain a good credit file in the early stages of your separation. Try to stay mindful of this throughout your divorce proceedings and remain as financially amicable as possible.
If you have a joint credit card that has a secondary card, let your spouse know you are planning to stop it. Or if you are the secondary card holder, let your partner know if you still intend to use it – come to a mutually agreeable time limit on when access to it will stop.
Keep your mortgage lender and other financial providers up to date on your situation for security reasons, but also so they can support you with future payments and needs.
It’s important to remember that if you move out, but remain named on the mortgage, you are still equally liable for the monthly repayments.
If you stay in your marital home, but your partner is the sole mortgage holder you do not have any mortgage rights. This means if they stopped paying the mortgage you would not be individually notified, despite living in the property.
Affordability ratings will alter if you want to buy a new home as a single mortgage applicant. Plan ahead to work out what you can reasonably afford.
Be mindful that lenders may consider child maintenance as an income. However there may be differing rules between lenders, so get a mortgage broker’s advice.
For the person paying child maintenance, lenders will class this as an expenditure and it could reduce the amount you are able to borrow for a loan or mortgage.
Some of The Family Law Company board members with Exeter Chiefs player Tommy Francis, who the firm sponsored this year. Left to right: Jane Chanot, Donna Hart, Norman Hartnell, Tommy Francis, David Cobern, Rachel Buckley and Sally Cook
The Family Law Company has two offices in Exeter (Oriel House, Southernhay Gardens, EX1 1NP and Balliol House, Southernhay Gardens, EX1 1NP) and one in Plymouth (Lower Ground Floor, Princess Court, PL1 2EX). For more information, please call 01392 421777 (Exeter offices) or 01752 674999 (Plymouth) or click here to visit the website.
Source: Devon live