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Not seeking expert advice could cost you dearly during a divorce

Planning & protection

13 February 2023

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Rick Hollington

Love is in the air once again as we approach Valentine’s Day.

But according to latest figures by the Office for National Statistics, more and more of us are sadly falling out of love, with divorce rates in 2021 going up by almost 10%.

If you’re heading for divorce or breaking up from a long-term partner, professional financial advice should be on top of your to-do list, as Fairstone Chartered financial planner Rick Hollington explains.

Anyone who has been through a divorce or break up after a long term relationship knows that it can be an emotional minefield, and very often it is not a clean break.

As a result, many people rely on expert help and advice to steer them through the break-up and help make the right decisions to reorganise their future.

Yet while most people heading for divorce will automatically turn to a solicitor for professional help in navigating the process, less people think about seeking financial advice.

 

Joint wealth

Uncoupling finances during a divorce can be difficult though and have long-term ramifications. Without financial advice, any financial settlement may not be accurate or fair for you or your family.

It should also be said that earning money and running the family home and/or raising the children are seen as equally important in the eyes of the law, so even if you weren’t the person bringing in the pounds and pence, you shouldn’t think that you haven’t contributed equally to your joint wealth.

 

Value of assets

A financial adviser can help you fully reflect an accurate value of all assets, from a shared property and savings to pension assets (often misunderstood or even overlooked), explore ongoing financial needs and identify the most suitable tax efficient solutions.

So the earlier an adviser can be involved in the process, the better, to help play a full role in the valuation and division of assets and help you to take control of your financial future.

 

Pensions

When it comes to pensions, the division of assets can be particularly complex, particularly if older defined benefit or final salary pensions are involved.

A pension earned by one partner during the marriage can be treated as being a combined asset of the partnership and therefore divided equally or otherwise between parties on their separation.

Pension sharing accomplishes a clean break. This involves couples splitting one or more pensions and the aim is to ensure that the future incomes of both spouses are equalised.

Pension offsetting sees pension rights balanced against other assets, such as the home. Typically if one spouse has a pension fund worth £400,000 and they jointly own a property worth the same amount, one could keep the property and the other keep the pension.

 

Protection

Protecting yourself and any children from the unexpected is a key part of financial planning and as your circumstances change, so will your protection needs. So even if you have the correct life insurance, income protection or critical illness in place whilst married, it is important that you review your priorities during a divorce to make sure you have the right financial protection in place for your future.

This can become a key consideration if prior to divorce all policies were held jointly (something you now wish to sever) or there was one main earner that was heavily protected leaving little or no protection for one half of the partnership after separation.

 

Post-divorce

Financial advice is equally important post-divorce as you settle into your new life and rebuild and take control of your financial future. At this time, ‘where will I/we live’ might get replaced with ‘how will I/we live’ and expert advice will help you to set your life goals as well as put plans in place to help to achieve them.

It may also be that your ex-partner handled all the finances, so having a full understanding of where you are and also having a plan of what you need to do will help reduce the stress and worry of feeling like everything is up in the air.

 

Getting to grips with your finances

Divorce is never an easy process for anyone involved, but getting to grips with your finances and taking professional advice across all aspects of the process can mean help both parties (and also importantly any children) have the best financial start to their new lives.

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