If you are going through a divorce, money is probably the last thing you want to talk or think about. Experiencing something as difficult as the end of a marriage cannot be helped by asking questions about your financial future, can it?
Unfortunately, money cannot simply be an afterthought when your are ending a marriage, it has to be one of the central issues that needs to be discussed. In any relationship, finances become intertwined over the years and untangling them is a difficult task.
Inevitably the question of what is ‘fair’ will emerge, but first and foremost, you need to ensure that you can financially survive after a separation.
If you have decided to divorce and you are facing the future on your own, you need to examine your outgoings and make sure that the divorce settlement and your existing income will cover the costs.
An audit of your current or expected bills should include your mortgage, utilities, pension contributions, the cost of running a car and any other liabilities or commitments you might have.
Some luxuries may have to go if you are placed in a more difficult financial position.
The law requires both partners to disclose their finances, so you need to show what cash assets you have in terms of your current account balance, savings, investments, and pensions.
You will also have to reveal what non-cash assets you have. This might include property or collectables that have a high value.
The home that you have shared with your ex partner might now be unaffordable for you to live in, or if your ex partner becomes the custodian of any children from the relationship, they will normally be granted it as the family home in the divorce settlement.
If you agree to sell the house, you will need to come to an agreement on splitting the profits and you will also need to agree on a sale price. Make sure that you have a clear understanding from your ex partner that they are happy with the price and estate agent has suggested as this can often be a contentious issue.
The law states that maintenance payments for children are payable until they are aged eighteen or until they leave school (whichever is later).
If you become liable for maintenance, you will be obliged to pay it until the spouse who is the primary carer re-marries or one of you dies.
Decades ago, the costs of divorce were significantly higher because of legal fees. Fewer marriages ended in divorce and divorce lawyers were not quite as ubiquitous as they are today.
Now the cost of legal advice during a divorce has substantially fallen and most divorce law specialists offer a package deal that means that costs are unlikely to spiral.
This said, it is important to examine the small print in any legal contract and discuss with your prospective lawyer any issues that are likely to make the proceedings more complex or time consuming (joint ownerships of businesses for example).
At the end of the day, you are trying to secure your own financial future and there is little point in going through a painful process if all you achieve is the paying of excessive legal fees.
If you would like some professional advice about planning your future after a divorce, you should talk to a qualified financial adviser.