A divorce or separation can be a very unsettling and stressful period. On top of the emotional strain of getting a divorce, one of the most concerning issues is the divorce settlement and what it will entail.
Taking the following steps can be helpful for managing expectations and reducing stress.
Seek legal advice
Considering your options and obtaining advice at the earliest possible stage is vital. This can help you weigh up different options and make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family. It can also ensure you have some advice about how best to protect your position from the outset. This should not be seen as a combative step and both spouses should be encouraged to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Consider a parenting plan
If you have children, understandably your first concern will be to support them, see them regularly and ensure they have the consistent care and routine they need. Agreeing an arrangement with your spouse can be difficult to navigate. A good starting point is to download and consider a parenting plan from the Cafcass website, which outlines key issues you will need to agree as you become separated parents.
Organise your finances
To reach a financial settlement, you will need to provide full and frank disclosure of your financial position. This will include gathering supporting documents such as bank statements, payslips, pension statements and property valuations. The sooner you can organise this the better, as it will make the task more manageable and, hopefully, quicker.
Prepare a budget
It is often difficult to stretch the income that sustained one household to two. You are also likely to have legal fees and other interim costs to consider; budgeting for those will place you in the best position of manging your finances whilst you are going through the process. It will also inform you of what you may require to manage your own household in the future.
Review your will
A separation or divorce is a vital time to consider your will (or to make one) to ensure your assets are dealt with in accordance with your wishes. Be sure to check any life policies or pensions as you may wish to update the list of beneficiaries at this stage too.
Consider some financial and/or tax advice
A solicitor can advise on legal matters, but you will need a specialist’s advice regarding your mortgage-raising capacity, investments, pensions, and tax issues. Seeking this at an early stage will help inform you of your options and the type of settlement you might need.
Rally your support network
Be sure to tell those closest to you so that they can offer you the support you need. That can include moral or emotional support, but also help with day to day tasks whilst you are navigating the divorce process. Consider some professional support from a therapist, counsellor, or coach as you navigate the process and most importantly, look to a brighter future.