In this interview with financial advisor Sheila Bailey - in my role as the Alternative Divorce Guide - I asked Sheila: "What are the 1st financial steps divorcing couples should take to reduce the stress and risk of conflict later on"?
"When I was getting divorced I had the typical advice from my friends and family: Get yourself a good female solicitor... don't give him anything.. etc - and because I was so angry about the situation I never thought of anything else. I didn't realise what my options were. This made the whole procedure difficult and extremely augmentative which was not great for him or me, and 13 years later we still do not talk!!
As a member of The Alternative Divorce Guide, I am an Independent Mortgage and Protection Broker @ Willow Private Finance Limited, aiming to help people with their finances whilst they are going through the divorce procedure. And I don't want anyone to follow the same path that I did, now that I know there are better ways of dealing with divorce.
I thought it would be a good idea to research the market and see how my suggestions match up to other's and to see if I had missed anything out. I am amazed at how many web sites have the first thing to do when getting a divorce as: 'GET A LAWYER!'
- Talk to your spouse about the situation
How would you both like the marriage to be divided? If there are children involved how will they spend quality time with both of you? If you are unable to talk without shouting or arguing I strongly recommend using a mediator. This will allow you both to have your say whilst the mediator is there to ensure that the meeting remains calm and civilised. This will be of great benefit to you both at the point where you will need to get lawyers/solicitors involved. A mediator's aim is help you both ascertain your wants and needs from the divorce so all the lawyer/solicitor needs to do is the legal work.
- Work out your own personal finances!
For the last number of years you have been part of a couple and unless you have kept your finances completely separate (which some couples do) your finances have become intermingled. Sit down with a copy of your last three months bank statements (if it is a joint account make sure you give a copy to your spouse as they will need to do the same). If you have sole accounts but you transfer money into each other's accounts ask your spouse for a copy of theirs and obviously vice a versa.
This should not cause to much of an issue if you have had mediation, however if you have not you may need to get your solicitor to request copies of statements etc. Using a budget planner (contact me if you would like to receive a budget planner at no charge) write down exactly what you pay out for now and then calculate if you will still be paying for it after the divorce e.g you currently pay all the credit card monthly statements but 3 belong to your spouse will you continue to pay after the divorce? Probably not?? Make sure you go through everything!!!! Food, car insurance, petrol, personal loans, life insurance, income insurance (the budget planner lists the main things you need to cover).
- What are you going to do with the house?
If you own your home between you, you will need to know how you both want to proceed with the home. If there is children involved the suggestion maybe that the person remaining in the house buys the other person out. Your first port of call would be to contact your local independent mortgage broker. The reason I suggest going to an independent is that they are able to research the whole of the market. You can of course go to your bank but bare in mind they will only advise you on their products and lending criteria. You could also use an estate agent but again make sure they are independent and not tied to a set of lenders.
You will be able to discuss with your mortgage broker whether or not you are able to buy out your spouse, or sell the property and purchase a new property. Can you transfer your existing mortgage to a new home? Do you have to split the equity 50/50 or is there a reason for it to be a different ratio?
- Get your documents in order
Pull together all of your insurance documents, life, critical illness, income protection, car and house. Is it all in joint names? Are you named as a second driver on your spouses car insurance, or are they are on yours? Will you need that to remain in place? Talk to each other about this and if the answer is no then remove the other party, as this could reduce your premiums. With regards to any protection you have that is for protecting the mortgage and its payments your independent mortgage and protection broker may be able to advise you whether to keep it or to take out a new one, this will of course depend on the course of action with the house.
- Got a pension?
If you or your spouse has pensions, ensure that you speak to a professional adviser to get the most suitable advice of how to proceed in the future.
The above is only the beginning of the divorce route. I hope it gives you an idea how to proceed when starting on this journey."
Sheila Bailey: Willow Private Finance