Divorce and Finances: Do I Need a Solicitor?

Divorce and Finances

Divorce is not something anyone ever wants to have to go through. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where your marriage breaks down and both of you agree to divorce either of you can start the divorce process. You may ask yourself, is there a need to use a lawyer for your divorce? Especially when it comes to divorce finances. 

Why do I need a solicitor for my divorce?

Whilst you do not have to instruct a solicitor to handle the divorce it will ensure the process is completed correctly, and efficiently. It will also be less stressful for you.

We can help guide you through the process of ending your marriage and securing a financial settlement. Never underestimate the stress, anxiety and pain that can arise during the divorce process. Emotions are often heightened and arrangements agreed amicably at the outset can often unravel as the process goes on without expert help

We understand that it is natural to fear the cost of instructing a solicitor, but we are committed to providing our clients with complete transparency when it comes to charging and likely costs.

So why should you pay for a solicitor to deal with your divorce? The fact is that you do not have to, however, there could be significant benefits in so doing.

Divorce and finances

A common misconception is that divorce and finances are part of the same process. This is not the case. It is important to recognise the distinction between terminating the marriage (obtaining the final order in the divorce) and resolving the financial claims arising from the marriage (the financial remedies). Obtaining the final order does not dismiss your financial claims against one another, only an order of the Court made under a separate application can do this.

As such, a couple could be divorced but still have unresolved financial claims and the risk of an ex-spouse making financial claims in the future, even if they have informally divided their finances around the time of the final order. We always encourage our clients to seek a financial settlement on divorce and to have the settlement made into a binding and enforceable Court Order

So, why instruct us? Having us on board can take the pressure away from you and free you up to focus on your day job, whatever that may be. This is so that you have a good understanding of the extent of the matrimonial finances and how these should be divided. There is a range of fair outcomes in the finances rather than one definitive answer and so expert legal knowledge of these means that you will understand the appropriate factors of settlement for the negotiations and the merits of the terms that are agreed.

With the outcome of each case being dependent on the facts, a broad-brush 50/50 division of the capital may not be the right outcome and there needs to be careful consideration about how any children’s financial needs are met, as well as whether there should be a clean break or ongoing maintenance and whether there should be a pension sharing order and obtaining the right calculation for that.

Three key elements to financial settlement on divorce

There are 3 key elements to a financial settlement;

  1. the sharing of capital, 
  2. the sharing of income, and 
  3. the sharing of pensions.

The sharing principle relates to the redistribution of matrimonial capital and pension resources. Capital assets often include the family home, an interest in a business and savings. Pension assets are those invested in pension funds administered by fund managers and arranged privately or through an employer.

The valuation of assets is often not straightforward. Pensions can be particularly difficult to value and, in some circumstances, it may be appropriate to instruct a pension expert to value the funds and advise on how they might be shared. Solicitors will help you to identify aspects of the finances where other professionals should provide their expertise, such as in tax calculations, surveyor’s reports, pensions reports or business valuations. Often, these instructions require careful consideration of the facts and the right questions being asked in order to achieve the right answers.

The sharing principle states that the starting point, when deciding how to re-distribute matrimonial resources is an equal division (i.e.. 50/50). Of course, this may not always be the endpoint. A solicitor will then help you by either leading the financial negotiations or explaining the appropriate range of outcomes for your own negotiations, such as discussions at mediation. We can also advise you as to which of your assets are subject to the sharing principle and how this might affect the overall sharing of your resources. The sharing principle does not attach to claims for spousal maintenance i.e. the readjustment of earnings/income. When assessing a claim for maintenance, the key consideration is “need”. Do you have an income shortfall? Can your spouse afford to meet that shortfall?

The benefits of having a solicitor acting for you during a divorce are:

  • to make your divorce documents are completed correctly to ensure there are no delays during the process;
  • to receive advice on the contents of the divorce petition;
  • to ensure agreements regarding your children are made fairly;
  • to assist you in making the best decisions when resolving your finances and assets;
  • to assist  you in negotiating the best settlement possible for you;
  • to deal with your divorce documents, financial agreement, and matters involving your children together;
  • to have a professional and knowledgeable person looking after your best interest during the divorce and financial settlement. 

Crucially, once fair terms of the settlement are agreed, solicitors will draft the terms of settlement as a Consent Order, to be filed at Court for judicial approval. Only then will the terms be binding and enforceable and future financial claims dismissed.

Although terminating the marriage itself is more straightforward, and there is now fortunately not any emphasis on who is to blame for marriage ending, it is still important for parties to take independent legal advice so that their financial position is properly considered, recorded and protected.

So, why instruct Goodlaw?

We mentioned at the outset of this piece that getting a divorce can be challenging to endure. Adding an extra layer of tension and pressure by preparing your own case without a solicitor to assist and support you throughout seems like an impossible task — and in many cases, it is. We do what we do to help prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with the process or agreeing on an unfair deal. 

Family law is inherently complex. Along with helping to resolve issues relating to children in divorce proceedings, solicitors are often invaluable in another important area when you are separating: financial matters and ensuring that there is full disclosure and that you receive a fair share of the assets available. All this could mean that you get greater clarity about the assets and therefore a fairer outcome when you have a solicitor working with you, helping to protect your rights and working to ensure you get a desirable outcome in your divorce. 

Our goal is to secure the best settlement for you, by using our legal expertise, knowledge, and skills. We pride ourselves on being sensitive to your needs whilst working to assist your transition into the next chapter of your life. If you are looking for a family law solicitor to help you through the process of your divorce and in achieving a fair financial settlement, please contact the Goodlaw family team on 01273 956 270 or email: family@goodlawsolicitors.co.uk