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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Divorce: who gets the air miles, pension and CD collection?


Air miles might not be the obvious thing to spring to mind when looking at division of assets on divorce, but I was reading an interesting article on this topic the other day (Divorce: who gets the air miles?). It got me thinking about other more unusual matrimonial belongings which need to be included in a divorce settlement but perhaps people do not automatically assign a value to.

To properly divide assets and ensure everyone gets a fair deal, everything should be taken into consideration. There is a potential real value in air miles, but I would imagine most people would not consider it. Nectar or Clubcard points are another example. The value here is unlikely to be huge in most cases, but if it pays for Christmas, it is worth having. At the other end of the scale, pensions are still too often ignored or glossed over. Getting a clear handle on the future value of a pension may need additional expertise, but they can be one of the biggest assets in a marriage, particularly if it breaks up after a long time.

The car, the house, the savings account, remaining payments on the new sofa – these are all things which are relatively top-of-mind and common to deal with. Individual possessions can be more taxing, like the Bob Dylan vinyl collection or the complete set of Nat West collectable piggy banks from the 1980s. They have a personal, emotional value as well as a monetary one. In my experience, these things can take a lot of tricky negotiation to sort out, right down to an extensive CD collection being methodically worked through and split depending on the artist – you can have Whitney Houston, but I am keeping AC/DC.

We did a blog here a while ago (A dog is not just for married life), in which there is some sensible advice which still holds true. What else do people fight over though and what lengths do they go to? I would be interested to hear your stories.

I know of a case where the parrot was the centre of a tug-of-love between the owners. Apparently it was an unusual one for the judge also, clearly a Monty Python fan, who enquired: “Is this a live parrot or an ex parrot?” It seems the couple were taking it perhaps more seriously than others in the courtroom. But the fact is they went to court to get a ruling on this because they couldn’t sort it out between themselves.

The mantra we use almost daily is “sort, not court”. Well, we may not use those words, but that is the essence of it. If you and your estranged husband or wife can come to an agreement on the key decisions around the divorce so you do not need to take court time to have a judge rule on the issues, you will save money, time, money, heartache and money. Any perceived financial gain by digging your heels in is likely to be severely reduced by court costs. If you can sort the basics without going to court, you will not incur these additional unnecessary costs.

In the age of mediation and collaborative divorce, and with all experienced divorce lawyers taking a non confrontational approach there is help out there for people to reach agreement more amicably, without needing a judge. This remains true whether you are trying to split the equity you have in the house, agree an approach to the pension benefits each has accrued or the complete collection of Star Wars figures from 1977 to 1983. Call on the help out there and then get an experienced family lawyer to enshrine the agreement in a legal document to avoid any future nasty surprises. That way you’ll know the air miles are there for a rainy day or the pension is squirrelled away for you later on in life.

Nick Wiseman,
Divorce lawyer, Great Yarmouth

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