5 vital things you need to know about pensions when you are getting divorced

We find that many couples overlook pensions when they’re getting divorced despite being one of or even the main asset available on divorce. To do so is a huge risk and you are gambling with your financial future.

We find that separating couples often do not appreciate that:

  1. They may not be able to look after themselves financially in retirement.
  2. Pensions can be shared in a divorce (i.e. that a part of an individual’s pension can be carved off for their spouse).
  3. There are many different types of pension with different benefits, risks and income and all this needs to be considered.
  4. Pensions can be valued in lots of different ways depending on the rules of each scheme. Therefore, it is very dangerous to assume that pensions have been valued fairly or accurately.  We can check this for you.
  5. There are different ways of sharing pensions to help meet the needs of a spouse in retirement.

We work with you to avoid costly mistakes. When it comes to pensions on divorce we can help pinpoint the most favourable way to approach the pensions, the true value of the pensions and tell you what retirement income you should expect to receive. Without specialist help, you are shooting in the dark and this can cost you a lot of money.

We can make sure that you don’t miss out on something you may be entitled to. It is important that you are advised about the best way of dealing with your pension claims and you have a skilled negotiator on board to secure the pension you need.

We leave no stone unturned so, please call us now on 01423 594680. Do not agree any divorce settlement without getting expert advice, it may cost you for many years to come.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

3 reasons why you must get legal advice on any financial agreement you reach on divorce or separation

Once an agreement is reached this should be put into a formal document to ensure that the terms of the agreement are clear, fully understood by both of you and will protect each of you from possible further claims in the future.

If there is a divorce or other financial proceedings, the agreement can be approved by the court and an order made in the terms of the agreement.  If there are no proceedings a Deed of Agreement (often referred to as a Separation Agreement) can be prepared.

You must have expert legal advice on any financial agreement you reach to ensure that:

  1. The terms are fair and appropriate to your circumstances. Even if you are content with the proposed terms, the agreement is reached at a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and we can look at the situation more objectively and consider the effect of the terms and any potential pitfalls.
  2. The terms of the proposed agreement can be enforced in the event that there is any problem with carrying it into effect.
  3. The Deed or Order closes off all future potential claims, unless it is necessary to keep any claims ongoing – such as spousal maintenance.

It is preferable for both of you to have representation from separate solicitors when the agreement is being drawn up.  You both need to be sure you understand the effect of the terms and that the agreement works for both of you.  If one person later feels that they have been treated unfairly or taken advantage of it can lead to resentment.

We always suggest exchanging financial information and, if there is a property, we check the title.  The reasons for this are:

  1. Even if you think that you are both clear about your financial circumstances, there can be things that are overlooked which we can pick up on – such as an unused joint account, a debt in joint names, an old pension fund which has been forgotten. These all need to be included to avoid issues later.
  2. There may be problems with implementing the terms of the agreement because of issues you were not aware could be a problem, such as mortgage arrears, a debt which has been repaid but remains on the title to the property, or restrictions on being able to share a pension fund.
  3. In some cases one person can be pretending to be in a worse financial position than they really are and by going through the financial disclosure we can usually identify where there may be additional assets or income which has not as yet been disclosed.

It is essential, even in cases which seem to involve the most straightforward of agreements, to take legal advice and exchange financial information.  Investing in getting good legal advice will ensure that you are moving forward into your future secure in the knowledge that your financial arrangements have been resolved properly and in the best way possible for you.  It may seem an unnecessary expense at the time but it will save you far more expense in the longer term and may avoid several years of worry.

You can trust Harrogate Family Law to help you.  We will be thorough to ensure that you can move forward with confidence that your financial arrangements are the best they can be.

If you need help with your divorce contact us on 01423 594680.

Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.

He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon.  If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk.

I am getting divorced – how do I protect my inheritance?

Most people wish to protect their inheritance if there is a divorce.

How are inheritances treated

Inheritances are treated differently to assets built up during the marriage.  It isn’t usually considered to be a marital asset to be shared.  However, whether it has to be shared depends on many different factors which include the length of the marriage, other contributions to the marriage and the other financial resources available following the divorce.

If the inheritance hasn’t yet been received it may not be taken into account at all or it may be possible to agree that this money should be excluded from the assets to be divided.

How we can help

At Harrogate Family Law we are specialists at protecting wealth and making agreements as water-tight as possible.  We will make sure that you achieve a settlement which meets your needs and is fair to you. We deal with complex arguments about inherited assets on a regular basis and are able to identify and combat all of the possible issues and pitfalls.  As skilled negotiators, the vast majority of our cases settle outside of Court so investing in our expertise could save you money in the long run.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region). He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

7 Unexpected Divorce Costs and How to Prepare for Them

Most people think about divorce costs in terms of legal fees and the expenses involved in selling the family home but there are a number of hidden costs that can hit the newly separated hard if they are unprepared.

This is one area where it pays to have a good family law expert on your side to help you anticipate the unexpected divorce costs and financial pressures that lie just around the corner.

Recent research by Aviva found that each year separating couples in the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet. This figure doesn’t include the cost of buying a new home.

Selling the family home

When a relationship is under stress, there can be a strong temptation to sell cheaply in order to move quickly. A good family lawyer will advise you not to compromise the value of your property for a swift sale. A far better option is to take some time to invest in its appearance before it goes on the market. A few thousand pounds spent on redecorating and tidying up things like grouting in the bathroom and loose rendering outside may be an unexpected divorce cost but it could add a lot more to the asset pot ultimately.

Buying a car

Even if there is more than one vehicle in the family, the spare car is often a small run around or company car and most couples share the use of a family-sized car to ferry the children to school and activities. When you split, you might need to consider investing in a family car each so that you can do the school run independently.

Paying for childcare

Depending on the age of your children, how close you will be living to one another and the care arrangements you put in place, you may need to arrange more private childcare after your divorce. This is a cost that is often overlooked when couples are working out how much they will need for future living costs.

Feelgood factors

The Aviva study found that many of the unanticipated costs of divorce involved lifestyle activities such as joining a gym or buying new clothes. One in seven people treat themselves to a post-divorce holiday and many also spend money on learning a new skill or hobby. Far from being frivolous, these kinds of costs are all part and parcel of rebuilding an independent life after divorce.

Planning for financial security

We receive a lot of positive feedback from clients about our prudent handling of their pension assets during divorce. This is an area where we add real value and it has been proven time and again that investment in expert legal advice from a family law firm like ours which specialises in pensions and financial settlements can make a huge difference to the outcome. Read our previous article for more information about dividing pensions on divorce

Seeking out expert financial advice can be particularly helpful for those who haven’t been financially independent before. It’s important to recognise that your financial future needs to be secure right through to retirement and not just for the short to medium term. Our clients often tell us that they have found the input of a financial advisor to be particularly helpful in identifying their long term financial needs and priorities, both during and after the divorce process.

The loss of bulk savings

Running a single home on two incomes is far more cost effective that running two separate homes. Married couples can buy groceries in bulk and share bills between them. One of the biggest shocks for divorcing couples is the fact that running two separate households is not just a case of splitting the finances and leaving each person to carry on with their own share. Even if two properties can be purchased from the sale of the marital home, the combined running costs of each are likely to be considerably higher than the costs of running one property.

Fair split  

One of the other unpredictable factors about divorce and money is how the assets will be split. This can have a massive impact on the amount of wealth each person comes away with. Our article about the factors used to determine the division of assets and whether a 50-50 split is fair gives a good summary of the way financial settlements are negotiated. Again, an experienced divorce solicitor will go through this information with you in detail and will ideally help you reach an amicable and fair agreement that eliminates nasty surprises and uncertainty.

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

 

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

What are the risks when you delay making a financial claim in divorce proceedings?

A common misconception in divorce is that a financial claim cannot be made once a Decree Absolute has been granted. In reality there is no limitation period for bringing a financial claim after divorce and there have been a number of very high profile cases recently where financial claims have been brought many years after the marriage had ended.

Aside from the stress and inconvenience of having to revisit your divorce settlement years down the line, there are a number of other reasons for making sure all the loose ends are tied up during the divorce process.

A cautionary tale

Mr and Mrs B had been married for 18 years before separating. A Decree Absolute was granted in 2005 but there were no financial orders made at the time.

Eight years later Mrs B applied to the court for a financial order. During that time Mr B had continued to operate his business, which formed part of the marital assets. Mr B argued that an agreement had been reached in 2005 when they divorced. Mrs B claimed that she had been waiting for Mr B to clarify his financial situation before making a claim. The judge found that she had suffered intimidation at the time, with Mr B refusing to respond to her requests for financial disclosure.

The family court judge found in favour of Mrs B and Mr B took the case to the Court of Appeal, claiming that the judge had been wrong to conclude that an agreement had not been reached in 2005, that the delay in bringing the claim should be a factor and that consideration had not been given to his contribution to his business since the divorce. He was also concerned that the delayed financial claim did not take into account the value of assets at the time of separation. Mr B lost his appeal.

What constitutes an enforceable agreement?

In order to finalise a financial agreement both parties need to fully disclose their financial affairs. This is important because without this transparency there is no way of knowing for sure what each party is entitled to and what constitutes a fair division of assets.

Many couples believe they have agreed a settlement when in fact it may be dependent on full and frank disclosure being provided. Without full disclosure the agreement is open to challenge at a later date. If one party has gone on to build a successful business or to generate significant wealth, the value of the settlement could be much higher than it would have been at the time of divorce.

Why should a stay at home spouse be entitled to a share of the other’s business after divorce?

The family courts value the contributions of homemaker and breadwinner equally which means that a stay at home husband or wife may be entitled to a share of their spouse’s business assets even if they have never worked in that business or contributed directly to its success.

Taking into account recent court cases, a delayed financial claim tends to look at the value of the assets at the time of the claim. This is because the judge considers that the stay at home spouse’s share of the business has been instrumental in the running of the business since divorce and its value has been put at risk by the failure to reach a settlement sooner. The courts may decide to reduce the claimant’s share, however, to take into account the delay in issuing the claim, particularly if it is made many years after the Decree Absolute.

Does it make a difference if a lump sum has been paid at the time of divorce?

The amount of the lump sum will be taken into consideration, as will the length of the delay, but it does not prevent a claim being made for full financial provision unless it has been paid as part of a financial order following full disclosure.

How to avoid delayed claims

We would always advise that financial matters are clarified and settled during the divorce process and this involves both parties participating in full financial disclosure.

Delayed claims can cause financial and emotional hardship for one or both parties and the share received by the claimant can be significantly reduced by the courts if there is a prolonged delay.

There is often a reluctance to be fully open about finances but if anything is left hidden it risks being disclosed at a later date when its value could have increased significantly. It is far better to agree a fair settlement at the time of divorce in the knowledge that future financial claims cannot be issued.

 

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2015 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2016 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

He is also the only Resolution accredited specialist solicitor in Harrogate for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

 

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

5 Assets People Forget to Split in a Divorce

When divorcing couples talk about splitting their assets they’re usually referring to the family home. Admittedly this will be a big part of the settlement but there could be a lot more up for grabs if you know where to look.

1. Pensions

Countless wives have lost out on hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past because their solicitors didn’t claim a share of their husband’s pension. We have specialist knowledge in this area and experience has shown that the value of a pension can be higher than that of the marital home.

2. Investments

We’re not talking about simple savings accounts here. Most people will know about those already and will have factored them in. The things that often go unnoticed are stocks and shares, insurance policies, brokerage accounts, employee share schemes and other similar incentives and benefits. Our in-house forensic accountant looks at all this in detail for our clients to make sure we haven’t missed anything.

3. Heirlooms

Your may have never liked your spouse’s antique vase or collection of rare stamps but now is the time to get them valued. They could contribute quite significantly to the asset pot.

4. Businesses

Business interests should be considered as part of the family assets, even if the business was started prior to your marriage. The business doesn’t need to be in joint names to be considered and the courts are likely to take into account the contribution made by a spouse who has looked after the home and children whilst the other has built up the company.

5. Inheritance

Inheritance is a complex area and fact-specific. For example, money that has been left to one spouse very recently and has been left intact in a separate account might not be shared in some circumstances. However, you may have a claim to it as well as to inherited money that has been held in an account that has been used for family expenses, or property that has been transferred to joint names or used for the benefit of the family as a whole, even if these were originally bequeathed to your spouse.

Finally … Have you valued the assets accurately?

Asset valuation is complex and there can be several ways to way certain assets. Depending on how valuation has been approached, the figures are not always accurate and fair. We work very closely with property valuers, financial advisers and actuaries with expertise in pension valuation and specialist accountants who can assess business interests accurately and make sure tax issues have been taken into account.

We are also highly experienced in uncovering assets that have been hidden or undisclosed. This is really important because it’s very difficult to revisit a settlement once it has been agreed by the courts and you could end up missing out on money that will help you build a more secure future for you and your family.

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

How to pay your divorce costs

The cost of seeking expert legal advice can be such a concern for some people that they delay going to a solicitor until they absolutely have to. This is completely understandable, particularly at a time when your future financial security is so uncertain, but the issue of how you pay your divorce costs is something we can help you with and it shouldn’t stop you getting the support you need. The sooner you get expert legal advice, the better.

How we help with divorce costs

We will give you clear, detailed information about the likely level of fees right at the start. We can agree to cap fees at a certain level and we regularly review divorce costs with you. Your first half hour with us is free and gives you an opportunity to discuss your priorities and concerns and understand how we will help you. After that, we believe the best way to limit legal costs is to secure a quick settlement and to avoid going to court wherever possible. Our experience, and our use of the latest technology, mean that the service you receive from us is efficient and represents real value for money.

Funding options

If you are unable to pay your legal fees from savings or income we can discuss a number of other funding options with you and introduce you to our expert contacts who can help. You may have family or friends who are willing to give you an interest free loan. If you do borrow money from family and friends, make sure you mention it to us as we will be able to help you draw up a formal agreement that will be taken into consideration when negotiating your settlement.

Investing in good legal advice

Some people may choose to negotiate their own financial settlement and only consult a solicitor to handle the legal paperwork and finalise what has been agreed. However, even cases that appear simple and straightforward can throw up difficulties and it’s easy to miss something important. For that reason we always encourage clients to think about their legal costs as an investment. We make sure that the money you spend on legal fees is used to secure the financial settlement you deserve and to make life after divorce as secure as possible for you.

If you or your spouse have pensions, business interests, trusts, property portfolios or inherited assets, it’s crucial that you each seek advice from a specialist family solicitor. These assets can be valued in different ways and it is vital to ensure that they have been valued accurately and fairly.  A firm like ours has lots of experience in checking that assets have been fairly valued. If the valuations are not carried out thoroughly and correctly then you could miss out on hundreds of thousands of pounds that you should be entitled to. It’s important to get it right first time because it can be very difficult if not impossible to persuade a judge to look at a case again if it turns out that assets were not valued fairly at the time of the divorce settlement.

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

Is My Husband Entitled to a Share of My Inheritance When We Divorce

There are a number of factors that can help you ring fence inheritance during divorce proceedings. Inheritance can include property, money, a business or valuable heirlooms such as art and antiques.

If inherited money was bequeathed to you as an individual and has been held in its entirety in a separate account, it is likely to be excluded from financial negotiations and will be retained by you over and above any settlement that is agreed. However, each case will be decided on its merits and it is advisable to seek the advice of a family solicitor to find out how your specific circumstances might affect the outcome.

If the money has been held in an account that has been used for family expenses, or if a property has been transferred to joint names or used for the benefit of the family as a whole, it will be more difficult to argue that it should be protected.

Heirlooms and assets that have recently been bequeathed at the time of the divorce are more likely to be considered the sole property of the beneficiary.

Keep hold of documentation

Make sure you keep a copy of any paperwork that names you as the sole beneficiary of the inherited asset, as this may help your case.

Consider a pre-nup or post-nup

If you have received or know that you are going to receive an inheritance, a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement can help to shield those assets during divorce proceedings.

Maintain Separate Accounts

If you have been left a sum of money it should be held in a separate account in your sole name. Once the money has been held in a joint account it can be much more difficult to prove that it has not been used to benefit the family as a whole or to contribute to expenses such as mortgage payments, bills and home improvements.

Future inheritance

Future inheritance is unlikely to be considered as part of a divorce settlement unless the benefactor’s death is imminent and the amount substantial. If you are anticipating a sizeable inheritance in the future it would be sensible to discuss this with a family solicitor and consider a pre or post-nup agreement.

 

 

Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

This article has been prepared with the aim of providing general information only and does not constitute legal advice in relation to any particular situation. While we aim to ensure that the information is correct at the date on which it is added to the website, the legal position can change frequently, and content will not always be updated following any relevant changes. In addition, everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be relied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing enquiries@harrogatefamilylaw.co.uk. Harrogate Family Law accepts no liability whatsoever in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss or damage caused by or arising directly or indirectly in connection with any use or reliance on the contents of any part of our website, except to the extent that such liability cannot be excluded by law.

6 early steps to take when you’re preparing for divorce

When you are preparing for divorce the things you do in the first few weeks can have quite an impact on the financial outcome. That’s why it’s important to take advice before you make any decisions that could affect your long term position.