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Family Law Blog

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Sorting out the divorce finances


Money is the root of all evil, the saying goes. Some might say that is an over-statement. Many would not. However, when it comes to divorce, sorting out the finances can bring out the very worst in people, making an already tricky situation highly volatile.

A financial settlement needs to take into account many different aspects, including any property, possessions, back accounts, savings, stocks and shares, and pensions. Also, any business interests may need to be included. Just putting a value on all these different facets is tricky before then looking at how they should be split between the two parties. It really does get down to who gets the Phil Collins CDs sometimes!

After all of this, many people still decide not to draw a lien under things with a Final Order, setting in stone the agreement that has been reached and dismissing any future claims. This can leave the door open for a partner to make play for money many years down the line if a situation changes – for instance if their former partner comes into some money. It’s akin to leaving the house and shutting the door but not locking it. The likelihood is that all will be fine, but if someone tried the door handle or spots the flat screen TV through the window, you could return to find you’ve been cleaned out!

Some couples think they don’t need a Final Order because they have very little to sort out, or they agree amicably between themselves who gets what. This is not enough though and there is no real reason to avoid “sorting it out”. It’s like an insurance policy. Do it just in case.

If you have already reached an agreement between yourselves then embody it in a Consent Order. Any agreement you reach between yourselves does not become legally binding unless it is in a Court Order.

A cautionary tale: you may have read about the case of footballer Ray Parlour. His ex-wife was awarded one third of his future earnings in a ruling which overturned conventional divorce law thinking. This can happen in family law; all of a sudden a case comes along and changes everything. No-one can guess what will happen to the law in the future. Your case will be governed by the legislation and case law which is current at the time.

By getting it in writing now, you can safeguard yourself for the future.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce solicitor

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