When a couple decides to separate, one of the big concerns is whether there will be enough money to go around when they are living in different places. There is a huge amount of uncertainty about what will happen financially. Should there be maintenance for the children? How will that be calculated? Should there be maintenance for either of the parties? Will the house have to be sold? What will happen to the pensions or the savings or indeed the debt?
Often the discussions are complicated about how best to divide the property, who should get what, and is one person paying enough. There are general principles that can be applied such as all the assets or property that have been acquired during the marriage should be divided equally. Often this will mean that there will be a 50-50 split although there are lots of situations where that might not be fair particularly if one person has contributed more before the relationship.
One thing is certain; you are trying to negotiate what is best for your financial future at a time when you are upset and stressed because of the separation. You need somebody to help you through these discussions. We will advise you on the legal position and importantly we will apply the law to your particular set of circumstances. That will help us work out what the best deal for you will be.
Another important point to consider is that you might not get a second chance to negotiate a deal. If an agreement is reached about the amount of maintenance to be paid or whether the house should be sold or the pension shared, that agreement will be recorded in a binding agreement called a Separation Agreement. Once the agreement has been signed by both people then there is no going back. If you have decided to accept less than you might be entitled to you are not going to have a second chance in the future.
We want to ensure that the agreement you reach is the best agreement for you and if at all possible secures your future and provides stability for yourself and your children. So while it might be possible to sell the house an alternative might be to have it transferred into one of the person’s names. Could that work? Is it good idea? The Separation Agreement should not be signed until people involved are sure that the terms of the agreement are acceptable to them. We will make sure that before you sign the agreement you understand the implications.
In some cases negotiation about finances is not successful. In these circumstances one option is to consult a mediator who would sit down with both parties to try and facilitate an outcome acceptable to everyone. Another option would be to ask our collaborative lawyer to set up a meeting with the other side to try and work out things together and to agree that the case should not proceed to court.
Sometimes there is no alternative other than to take your case to court and ask a judge to make a decision. The difficulty is court cases involving financial settlement can be complicated and lengthy but most of all can be very expensive. So you must be sure that the amount in dispute is sufficient to justify taking a risk. Again you need our specialist advice as to the best route to follow to ensure you achieve a fair settlement and, as far as possible, secure your future.