BLM's Top 10 Divorce pitfalls
On this, the seventh day of our #12DaysOfChristmas #12DaysOfFamily law blog series,
Head of family law, Grainne Fahy and solicitor Michael Compston discuss...
Top 10 Divorce pitfalls
Going through a divorce can be stressful, hurtful and particularly so at this time of the year.
The actual legal process of divorce is relatively simple. However, the division of assets or the handling of contact with children can be less straightforward.
At BLM we know how to represent with great care and sensitivity the interests of parents and their children whose family life becomes more complex as a result of divorce. So here are ten of the most common pitfalls we’ve witnessed in divorce proceedings and some ideas around how to combat them:
- Putting yourself/yourselves before the children.
- Descending into acrimony.
- “Weaponising” the children.
- Failing to update your will.
- Trying to hide money or assets.
- Not thinking about the costs of the divorce.
- Failing to consider settlement.
- Not properly considering your pension assets.
- Losing sight of the bigger picture.
- Just choosing the first, not necessarily the most suitable, solicitor.
Let’s look at these in some more detail.
1. Putting yourself/yourselves before the children
If you and your partner are in disagreement over the finances, or the family home, you can almost see them as the enemy. Focusing on how to combat your partner in such a situation may mean that the children are forgotten.
2. Descending into acrimony
Following on from the above, a descent into acrimony helps no-one, least of all the divorcing parties. Falling out causes numerous problems; costs can escalate, matters get delayed and additional court applications get made.
Divorce is never going to be a pain-free process. But, especially if young children are involved, it is important that the parties can remain civil with each other, for the children’s sake.
3. "Weaponising” the children
It cannot be expressed enough how important it is not to use the children as pawns in the divorce. Any proceedings regarding the children will be conducted separately, but any discussions about finances should not involve the children.
Christmas is a difficult time of the year for divorcing couples but we encourage our clients to try to put aside their differences for the benefit of their children. And if they haven’t managed to agree Christmas arrangements that they are happy with this year, that they start preparations early for next year’s arrangements.
4. Failing to update your will
If you have a will and don’t update it on divorce, you risk your assets being distributed unfavourably, should anything happen to you.
5. Trying to hide money or assets
Not only is it considered contempt of court if you are in proceedings but the chances are, it will be found. As part of financial proceedings, financial disclosure is carried out, and solicitors forensically examine both sides’ bank statements. Any anomaly will be queried and you will have to provide answers.
We encourage our clients to realise that ‘honesty really is the best policy’, if they are dishonest there is the risk of having orders set aside at a later date.
6. Not thinking about the costs of the divorce
If matters can be settled amicably, there is no reason for a divorce to be too costly an exercise. However, if matters become protracted and temperatures are raised, the costs can escalate. Ultimately, this reduces the matrimonial pot available for division, so ensure that you think carefully about your costs throughout your case.
7. Failing to consider settlement
Just because the court process has started, it does not mean that you cannot reach a settlement out of court. Indeed, your solicitor will prompt you to consider this at various stages. It will often be quicker, cheaper and more amicable to settle out of court, if possible.
This can reduce the financial and emotional cost of divorce and you will be in more control of the outcome.
8. Not properly considering your pension assets
Pensions are often the biggest asset after the matrimonial home. They should be considered very carefully solicitor’s advice sought as to whether a pension expert is required. More often than not, the answer is yes, so despite the expense of doing so, the benefits can be huge - so we encourage our clients to tread carefully here. Pensions can be complicated and expert advice is often invaluable.
9. Losing sight of the bigger picture
It is important to remember that the divorce has come about because at least one party feels the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It’s now about finding the fairest, most amicable way to end the relationship, which is especially important if there are children involved. Remember that you loved each other once and so you should treat each other with respect and kindness. If you have children together, you will need to find a way for a relationship to survive post-divorce.
10. Just choosing the first, not necessarily the most suitable, solicitor
When you first speak to a solicitor about the divorce, it will likely be an emotive experience. However, it is important that you are working with a solicitor who you trust and feel comfortable with.
Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.