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.

We are separating – do I have to move out?

Separating after arelationship breaks down is an emotional time in anyone’s life and the issue of whether to leave the family home throws up lots of questions.

You may not be sure if you should leave or if you should ask your partner to leave and what your rights are if you do take this action.

Before taking any steps, it is essential to get professional advice from an experienced family law solicitor about the arrangements for the home,  whether it is rented, owned or mortgaged in both your names or just one of your names.

Sorting out where you are going to live can be very stressful so it’s important to understand your legal position.

Joint home ownership

If you jointly own the property you live in or it’s rented in both names, then both of you are entitled to be in the home.  There are however reasons why a person’s right to occupy the home can end.

If the separation is particularly acrimonious, you may feel there is no choice but for you or your ex-partner to move out, but you will not lose your claim to the equity in the house. However, you do need to take advice before deciding to leave. If you are being threatened with exclusion from the family home it is possible to enforce your right of occupation.

If you have a joint mortgage this remains a joint responsibility but it may not be appropriate for one person to continuing contributing to the payments but there may be consequences of not doing so.

Over time, it will be necessary to sort out the financial arrangements as part of the divorce settlement. For couples who own their home, this may involve one spouse buying the other out or the property may be sold and the assets split.  It can sometimes be possible to postpone the sale of the property especially if it is required as a home for the children.

In cases of rented property with a joint tenancy it may be possible for one person to terminate the tenancy and therefore advice should be obtained as soon as possible. Tenancies can be transferred from joint to sole names in some circumstances.

House in one name

Even if one spouse is not named on the title deeds of the family home, they will have a right to live there and can register their matrimonial rights with the Land Registry Office.

This can help protect their interest in the home until the outcome of the divorce is concluded and a financial agreement is reached. Even if the house is only in one name, usually each party would receive a share of the equity depending on the circumstances.

Divorce settlements

The family home plays a big part in any divorce settlement. The best interests of the children and where they should live will be  the first consideration when it comes to reaching an agreement about what happens to the family home. Each case will be different and the financial needs, resources, obligations and responsibilities of each person are also important factors.

If you are considering leaving the family home, before making any decisions, it’s important to get specialist legal advice. At Harrogate Family Law we are experts in supporting people through separation and getting the best outcome possible which works for you and your children.

 

 

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.

How unmarried couples can protect themselves when they buy a house together

An increasing number of unmarried couples are buying a home together before marriage, or without any plans to marry, but few are aware of the steps they should be taking to protect themselves if the relationship fails.