It can be difficult to know where to start when you have to resolve property and financial issues in the context of relationship breakdown. The feelings of hurt, betrayal and grief for the relationship can be overwhelming, and yet you are being asked to deal with large numbers of documents that you may not fully understand, and to make important decisions that will affect the rest of your life. It is an extremely stressful time. In the first of two articles, our family law specialist, Joanna Toloczko, gives her top tips on how to approach your divorce.
Have a plan: Decide what your priorities are and whether they are realistic and then make a plan as to what you wish to achieve. There may be a “chicken and egg” issue here as many people will think “I can’t make a plan until I know what I am going to get”. However, it is usually the person with the most sensible and realistic plan that succeeds in the negotiations or at the court hearing. Cases based on unrealistically low offers or sky high demands are never successful and only serve to alienate the other party and the judge.
You will need to consider whether you wish to stay in the family home and whether it is realistic for you to do so. If not, where would it be sensible for you to live and how much will it cost you to buy an alternative property? Have a look at some online property websites to help you assess the cost of suitable properties in your chosen area. Investigate your mortgage capacity with a financial adviser.
Prepare a monthly budget containing a comprehensive list of all your future outgoings. What money will you have coming in from your own earnings, income from investments, state benefits etc? Determine how much money will you need your spouse to pay or how much can you afford to pay to your spouse.
The importance of full disclosure: You cannot engage in any productive negotiations with your spouse until you are confident that you have a full and accurate picture of what there is with regard to assets (including pensions), income and liabilities. Your solicitor will not be able to advise you with regard to appropriate settlement terms until s/he has that information.
The process of exchanging information is called “disclosure”. It is usually done by preparing and exchanging Forms E (the Court prescribed form). Documents must be provided in support of the information given on the Form E.
If you are not satisfied with the information provided, then further information and documents may be requested. If they are not forthcoming, ultimately, you may ask the Court to make an order for production.
For further advice on matters relating to financial remedies on divorce, please contact our family law specialist, Joanna Toloczko on 020 7703 5034.
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