Divorcing couples often find reaching a financial settlement the most challenging part of the divorce process. And sometimes this is because they really don’t know where to start. Well-meaning advice from friends, misconceptions from the media and personal beliefs of what is ‘right’ and ‘fair’ can get in the way of finalising a financial agreement.
Couples will often reach an agreement between themselves but if there is any disagreement or dispute it’s important to be organised and systematic in the approach you take.
It may sound obvious but when you separate you need to start by making a list of what you own. That is a list of all the assets and property you have both in your sole name and any that you might own jointly with your spouse or any other person.
Then you need to give each of your assets a monetary value. Usually this figure is the asset’s fair market value or what you could expect to receive if the asset was sold and also assuming you were under no obligation or pressure to sell and there is a willing buyer for it.
Whilst with some assets such as furniture and cars you can probably value them yourself. With other assets such as houses, artwork, antiques, businesses and pensions you will probably need outside help.
Such help would come from the likes of local estate agents, surveryors, accountants and pension experts. These people will help you arrive at a fair value particularly for any property, a family business or a complex pension scheme.
The services of an expert are all the more important if you and your ex cannot agree on the value of an asset.
Once the value of all assets has been agreed with your spouse, you can start to talk about dividing the value in a fair way between you.
In my experience, getting to the point where you have agreed the value can be a difficult process particularly if you have no previous experience of such matters and feel out of your depth. The danger is you undervalue the assets or agree a settlement that is not in your best interests.
Once you have a list of your assets your best course of action is to speak to an experienced family law solicitor so that you are pointed in the right direction at the outset about how to go about making sure a fair valuation is obtained.
At Woolley & Co all our solicitors are very experienced in dealing with the issues surrounding the valuation of all types of assets whether they are one bedroom flats, multi-million pound mansions, complex businesses or personal pension assets.
Family law solicitor, Barnet