Cat litter trays and Neil Diamond CDs, dog-eared paperbacks and screwdrivers. So often these are what a marriage can come down to – or a divorce, to be more accurate. Haggling over who gets final custody of items with little intrinsic value when a couple decide to go their separate ways is often what drags out a divorce. I wouldn’t want to put a figure on how much extra each year this costs UK couples in fees, but it’s A LOT.
A survey out this week revealed, none too surprisingly sadly, that a fifth of divorces are delayed because of rows over these inexpensive possessions. The analysis showed that ex-husbands and wives were prepared to run up costly legal bills in order to win custody of possessions as small as picture frames, tools and hairdryers. Even those in the higher earning bracket with seven figure fortunes to divide can get hung up on a favourite butter knife or flea market picture.
The findings were based on examination or more than 1,000 divorces from the last year.
So here’s a thought. If a couple really are in search of the mythical quickie divorce we read about constantly in the tabloids when celebs go their separate ways, the best thing they can do is be sensible about dividing up possessions and coming to a financial settlement. That will ensure things move through the legal process as quickly as possible, with no holds ups, so the ex-spouses will be free and single again in the fastest possible time (which will still be around six months so don’t get over-excited).
Division of assets can be long and complicated at the best of times, just looking at the finances. Haggling over little things is pointless and will gain nothing but bigger bills. Couples must be prepared to compromise if they want to move on with their life and start afresh. There is not point trying to prove a point by arguing over Auntie Mable’s broken old St Bernard ornament.
Of course, I guess the reason some people may dig their heels in is to deliberately delay things because they have not let go and do not want to finally say goodbye to their partner. However, surely not all of the 20% identified in this report are deliberately delaying things and adding to the cost for all?
It is essential that all these details are sorted out and that a clean break order is then agreed to prevent any future claims and draw a line under the division of the assets. And without that, any chance of a swift divorce remains remote.
Woolley & Co, divorce solicitors