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.

What happens if a Court Order in financial proceedings is not complied with?

There can be two types of court order:

  • one which sets out the terms of the financial settlement and is either agreed by the parties or imposed by the judge and usually comes at the end of the proceedings
  • within the proceedings, there can be case management orders setting out the documents or information required to progress to a final settlement.

Sometimes a party gives a promise to the court to do something which is integral to the terms of the order. A promise to the court is called an Undertaking and failing to keep that promise amounts to contempt of court.

Any of those orders or undertakings can be enforced. There are various stages: a warning about non-compliance, a penal notice to say that if non-compliance continues it can be punished by a fine or imprisonment, and then committal. A committal application is for the person in default to be punished and the usual penalties are a fine, a suspended prison sentence or imprisonment. In addition, the defaulter is usually ordered to pay the legal costs incurred by the other party in the enforcement proceedings.

Enforcement action

The penalties are severe but they are intended as a deterrent to prevent non-compliance of a court order.  It is very rare that someone has to be sent to prison for defaulting on an order. However, on 15 March this year, an 83-year-old man, Mr Hart, was sentenced to 14 months in prison at the High Court in Bristol for his wilful failure to comply with the orders and undertaking following divorce.

Mr Hart had been ordered to transfer one of the family businesses to his wife following their divorce and he had given an undertaking which said that he would do so in a manner which enabled a smooth transfer. He failed to comply with the undertaking. Mrs Hart had to apply to the court for possession of the company premises. When Mrs Hart was finally able to take possession, almost all of the management records were removed which meant she could not efficiently run the business.  Mrs Hart had to apply for these documents to be released to her and there were several hearings about this when Mr Hart said he would provide the information and then failed to do so. Despite the fact he produced many of the documents on the morning of his sentencing hearing the judge felt that his contempt of court was so serious and the effect on his wife and the company was so dire that a financial penalty was inadequate and it wasn’t appropriate to suspend a sentence because of the opportunities he had already had to comply. He was also ordered to pay his wife’s costs of the enforcement application.

Most people accept the authority of the court and comply with orders to the best of their ability. If it is not possible to comply it is important to notify the court and ask to have the order amended.

Divorce cases involving businesses

Cases involving businesses can be complex and it is important to have expert legal advice to ensure that that the terms of any agreement or order are appropriate and fair and can be complied with. There are lots of potential pitfalls which need to be avoided and anyone going through a divorce or separation who has a business should ensure that they have solicitors who are experienced in dealing with complex cases and hidden assets.

 

Harrogate Family Law are the leading firm in North Yorkshire and recommended by highly regarded legal directories Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounds region) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).

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.

We are separating amicably – do I need a solicitor?

It is always preferable to resolve the child arrangements and the division of assets amicably.

It is often a more cost-effective way to divorce, as well as minimising the stress and disruption that an acrimonious separation can cause. We are always supportive of clients who want to achieve an amicable settlement.

However, do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you’re on good terms with your former spouse, you don’t need a solicitor and legal advice is a waste of money. It could be a very expensive mistake to make.

What do I need to consider in an amicable separation?

There are many common issues and pitfalls which people encounter when preparing to separate. To avoid them, you need to consider:

  • Are you getting a fair share of the assets?
  • Do you know what assets there are?
  • What pensions do you have, do you understand all the benefits of the schemes and do you understand the implications and rules of them?
  • What income in the short, medium and long term are you going to have and does this meet your expenditure?
  • Do you know the full extent of your spouse’s income?
  • Have you got any liabilities?
  • Who will be responsible for the mortgage?
  • Should the house be sold and how will the proceeds be divided?

The last thing you want is to realise later that you overlooked something significant and are losing out as a result.

Is an amicable separation possible?

In our experience, it certainly is possible to separate amicably and for both parties to achieve a settlement which they are happy with – but legal advice is still an important part of the process.

We would never stand in the way of a genuinely amicable settlement when both individuals have a clear picture of their respective income and assets, and both understand the terms they are agreeing and the implications of that agreement.

However, sometimes one spouse is appearing to be amicable because they want the other to agree to something which is not fair. Alarm bells should ring if you are being urged not to bother getting legal advice.

We strongly recommend getting legal advice before agreeing any terms of settlement. We also strongly recommend that any settlement terms, once agreed, are incorporated into a formal legal agreement or a court order so that they are binding and it is not possible for them to be reneged upon later. Without this, your agreement is unlikely to be worth the paper it is written on.

At Harrogate Family Law, we are highly regarded for protecting wealth and making agreements as water-tight as possible. We also make sure that you are treated fairly and achieve a settlement which meets your needs.

We deal with complex cases on a regular basis and are able to identify all of the possible issues and pitfalls specific to your circumstances, whether that is relating to a family business, school fees, pensions or other factors.

We are also skilled negotiators, with about 95% of our cases reaching an agreement outside of court. Investing in our expertise at an early stage could therefore save you money and time 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.

Is online divorce really cheaper than a solicitor?

Coverage in recent months about speeding up the divorce process by using fixed fee digital services raises lots of questions about the pros and cons.

The Ministry of Justice announced last year that couples can divorce online – as long as both parties agree – as part of a £1bn change to the justice system.

Whilst the draw of online services is they claim to cut the amount of time and reduce the costs of non-contested divorce, there can be potential pitfalls which are best avoided.

A do-it yourself divorce might look good on paper but it’s always better to instruct a solicitor for the reasons outlined below:

On-going advice & support

Some people may be happy to go it alone but divorce can be one of the most challenging times in someone’s life. It’s important to have support from an experienced professional who can guide you through the process from start to finish. On-going advice and face-to face meetings are key to ensure any complex matters can be thoroughly explored and resolved.  If issues aren’t identified at the outset, it’s possible they could be overlooked and this could have a detrimental effect on the overall outcome.

Paperwork

A DIY divorce looks cheap but those exploring this option should remember in many cases it only covers the paperwork. There are additional fees to be paid including the standard court issue fee of £550 which applies whether you instruct a solicitor or not. A divorce can be delayed if the paperwork is not in order or one party has not completed documents correctly. There can be significant delay because of mistakes in the paperwork and real prejudice if something is omitted. Here at Harrogate Family Law, we go to great lengths to ensure documents are drafted right first time and you can have peace of mind that it’s all dealt with correctly on your behalf.

Financial & childcare arrangements

A digital divorce will cover the fees for the paperwork, but they often don’t include the costs of sorting out the financial and childcare arrangements. In our experience, these are the most complex issues that arise in divorce proceedings. Most couples will need a financial order which documents how assets will be split and may also require a childcare arrangement order. It’s quite usual for a divorce not to be concluded until the financial agreements have been finalised into a formal document or court order signed by a judge because divorce can affect pension claims and inheritance rights.  It is important that the financial agreement is drawn up by a solicitor to ensure it includes everything necessary and provides the protection needed.  This is crucial if you are to avoid a further claim on your finances at a later date.

Experience & legal knowledge

With our considerable legal expertise, we will help you achieve a fair deal and the settlement you deserve. Getting the right advice at the beginning is important and we always aim to keep disputes out of court whenever possible. Negotiating a settlement that works for both parties and therefore reduces costs is better in the long-run for all involved.

Divorce is never easy and, even if uncontested, there can be hidden risks that can arise at any time. A good example is pensions and finding a fair way to divide these. Without proper advice from a solicitor who is looking at the whole picture, it’s easy to see how one party may not end up with their fair share. In some cases, pensions can be as valuable as the family home, so it shouldn’t be overlooked.

Getting the divorce right is much more than just sorting out the paperwork and, as we mentioned earlier, it’s essential to ensure this is correct and in order.  Our family solicitors are experienced in dealing with all aspects of divorce and will offer support and legal advice throughout the whole process.  We will look at the whole picture and all of the potential pitfalls to help you secure the best outcome for the future.

 

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 divorce affects the family business

A family business will differ significantly from the other assets that are valued and shared during a divorce settlement. The business often provides the family with a certain standard of living and the business and financial security of both spouses can be put at risk if matters are not handled in the right way.

As an accredited Resolution expert in complex divorce and finance cases, I cannot stress enough how important it is to seek urgent legal advice whenever a family business is involved in a divorce settlement.

We can’t cover every challenge and pitfall in this article but these are some common questions we hear from clients.

Do I have a right to a share of the family business when we divorce?

Business interests are considered along with other marital assets such as the family home, even if the business was started before marriage and even if it is not in joint names. The courts will not necessarily grant a greater share to the party responsible for building the business up. Credit may be given to a spouse who looked after the home and children to allow the other to devote more time to the family business.

Our role is to make sure the division of business interests is fair and reasonable. We prefer, where possible, to agree a settlement out of court because once the case is in front of a judge it can be very difficult to control the outcome. The court may even order the business to be sold and the capital split.

Once we know your precise circumstances and personal priorities we will be able to discuss the options with you in detail and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

How can I sustain myself financially if my career has been within my husband’s business?

When a husband and wife have been working in a business together, divorce can affect both their future earnings. A key concern will be whether it is feasible for one of them to continue running the business and if enough capital is available to “buy out” the other.

In such situations our technical knowledge allows us to conduct careful and informed negotiations in order to agree a fair settlement for everyone involved. This might mean one partner retains ownership and pays the other spousal maintenance, or that borrowings are used to create a lump sum payment. There are a number of possibilities and we can talk these through with you.

How can I protect my family’s business from divorce?

Divorce can have implications for other members of the family who are involved in running the business. Their priority, and ours, will be to ensure the business itself is not affected. This might involve using other assets for a settlement in order to protect the business, or agreeing stepped payments from the business to protect cash flow and enable it to continue trading effectively. There are a number of options.

 

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.

Valuing the contribution of a homemaker in a divorce

When it comes to deciding how wealth will be split in a divorce settlement, the law is quite clear that there must be no discrimination between breadwinner and homemaker.

How is the contribution of a homemaker valued?

Although the Office of National Statistics has created an online calculator in an effort to put a value against unpaid work such as childcare, cooking and cleaning, in a divorce case the courts will look at the contribution from many angles, including the sacrifice of career progression and future earning potential.

Whilst the majority of homemakers are women, we are dealing with an increasing number of divorce cases involving female breadwinners whose husbands have taken time out of their careers to look after the home and family. Whatever the gender of the homemaker, the principle remains the same and contributions towards a marriage must not be valued in monetary terms alone.  The role of a spouse who has dedicated a large part of his or her married life to looking after the home and caring for children is regarded as equal to that of the main income earner.

What can a spouse do to protect themselves if they have no income?

It can be terrifying to face divorce when you have no income of your own. You may hold back from seeking legal advice because you are not sure how you will pay for it. You are also likely to be concerned about the future financial security of you and your children.

Your position as homemaker makes it more important than ever to have an experienced family lawyer on your side who can explain your rights and negotiate a fair outcome for you and your family.

As well as making sure your contribution as homemaker is properly taken into account, your solicitor will also be able to secure interim financial support to meet the cost of things such as household bills, children’s extra-curricular activities and legal expenses.

In our experience spouses who have taken on the role of homemaker often neglect to put themselves first in a divorce. It’s our job to look out for them and this includes spotting areas that could reduce their settlement if they are not handled correctly. As pension specialists, for example, we make sure the breadwinner’s pension pot has been valued accurately. We also verify the valuations of property, business interests and other assets.

We cannot stress strongly enough how important it is for homemakers to have this kind of expert advice early on in the divorce process. Most cases are settled out of court these days which means agreements tend to be reached through negotiation rather than by a judge. We will act in the best interests of you and your family to make sure your contribution to the marriage is recognised and your financial future is secure.

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.

 

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