When it comes to divorce, make sure you see the money side of things.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
It is a hugely emotional time when you split up with your partner, and that makes it even harder to make sensible financial decisions.
Rather than thinking through options and making a long-term financial plan, people often feel desperate to end the misery of an unhappy relationship as soon as possible.
Although this is perfectly natural, it is not necessarily the best thing to do for your long term financial security.
Divorce is a life-changing decision and when couples begin the process they are not always prepared for the emotional stress that accompanies the end of a partnership.
This is where I come in supporting you emotionally and asking you good questions to help you find your own answers – as one size doesn’t fit all – every family circumstance is different.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard intelligent, articulate, confident women say that they haven’t been involved in the finances in their relationship and had delegated that side of things to their partner.
Alternatively I’ve worked with women who always planned for the future as a couple, so it can be very hard to start taking financial decisions alone after separating.
It’s a really good idea, and very important, amid the stress of divorce to take time to think over your finances.
A good way to cope, if you wake up at three in the morning like I used to do, and can’t sleep, is to write it all down. I work with my clients helping them to draw up a timeline so they are clear about where they are in the process and where they’d like to go in the future.
Divorce brings with it a a huge rollercoaster of emotions – anger, rage, fear, misunderstanding, denial and sadness – and all this can make it hard to act in a sensible financial way, particularly if you’ve not been used to it.
So I think it’s a good idea to get independent financial advice.
Basically divorce boils down initially to the welfare of the children and the money.
The last thing people want to do is to ‘waste’ money at this time of huge change and turmoil but getting good financial and legal advice is crucial in my opinion – as you don’t want to make a mistake now, that will cost you for the rest of your life.
Here’s a few simple tips to think about.
- Change your bank and building society accounts into a single name.
- Inform the HMRC about your tax returns.
- Notify the local authority in order to get a council tax rebate if you are going to be living alone.
- Check whether you are entitled to any benefits.
- Find out about your partner’s pension.
- Find out if your are entitled to maintenance or if it would be better to go for a clean break.
To find out how to manage your money and divide up what you own when going through divorce or separation go to The Money Advisory Service
Despite what happened to cause the break down of your relationship in financial terms, it is largely irrelevant who divorces.
Unless there is exceptionally bad behaviour, it is unlikely to make any difference on issues such as children and/or finances.
But for the sake of your children, and your own wellbeing, try to negotiate amicably with your partner, given how easily solicitors’ fees will eat away at your joint assets.
One simple rule of thumb, if you have prepared a letter, email, or text, is to sleep on it before you send it. You will know exactly what will most annoy your ex-partner & push their buttons, and while it might make you might feel good at the time of sending it, it will ultimately cost you money if you can’t work things out in a civilised way.
So press your imaginary Pause Button and take a step back, as a short term victory could be a long term disaster.