Splitting up from a partner can be an emotional roller coaster and planning your future finances may be the last thing you feel like doing.
However, it is vitally important for the long-term wellbeing of both you and your ex that a financial settlement is reached that is mutually satisfactory and will stand up to legal scrutiny.
Generally speaking there are three areas to be considered when working out who has what proportion of the joint finances – and for how long.
- Assets – including savings, investments, property or shares
- Income – the amount and length of time any post separation payments should be made
- Pensions – the type of scheme and its value
The first step in ensuring a robust financial settlement is arranging an exchange of all the financial information. Only by doing this will all parties gain an insight into the whole financial landscape.
The next priority is building a detailed picture of the needs of each party, both now and going forwards. This often involves a process of quid pro quo – for example one of you might seek the security of a home while the other may want to be the sole beneficiary of a future pension pay out.
Crucially, the rationale for any trade-off will need to be clearly explained in the court document so that it can be scrutinised by the judge. Care should also be taken to ensure there are no hidden difficulties such as penalties on settlement of a mortgage or tax problems.
The next stage is drawing up a timetable that ensures all transactions such as maintenance payments, property transfers or lump sum payments have an agreed cut off date. This will also be checked by the court, to ensure that it is deemed fair for both parties.
When making its judgements, the court will take into account a range of factors for both parties including financial resources, financial obligations, standard of living, age, health and the contributions made to the marriage.
Creating an agreement that will stand the test of time is a complex task and it always pays to seek advice from a highly experienced family lawyer who can ensure that everything is encapsulated in an agreement which is in a format that is acceptable to the court. Once the agreement is approved, it will give clarity and certainty to each party enabling them both to look forward into the future with security and optimism.
About Peter Jones
Peter Jones is one of the country’s leading divorce and family lawyers. A qualified arbitrator and mediator, Peter set up Jones Myers as the first niche family law firm in the north of England in 1992 and has acted for a string of high-profile clients.
Renowned for his sympathetic approach, he is a former national chairman of Resolution, a former Deputy District Judge – and instigated the D5 Group of law firms that promotes excellence in family law. www.jonesmyers.co.uk