It may be a cliché to say timing is everything, but in divorce it’s crucial to making it through amicably with your heart and bank balance intact. In this blog we’ll show you how to reduce the cost of divorce and length of time it takes.
Start on the same page
In the early stages of a divorce you and your partner may have very different feelings depending on whether you’ve said you want a divorce or been told about it by your partner. Understanding your own emotions and your partners has a dramatic effect on keeping things amicable, saving time and money by reducing conflict and arguments. Our graph shows the stages people go through during a change like divorce.
If you’ve just been told your partner wants a divorce you may be shocked, angry or in denial. You’ll need some time to come to terms with what’s happening. If, on the other hand you have asked for the divorce, chances are you’ll have been thinking about it for some time and be ready to explore options for future by the time you tell your partner. If you have asked for the divorce it’s really important to give your partner time to adjust to the news. Don’t expect them to be ready to talk about settlements or future arrangements at this stage. Rushing them will lead to friction, entrenchment and the probability of them using a lawyer to communicate (ouch expensive!). Time invested at this stage will make negotiating a settlement easier and faster in the long-run.
Get help if you can’t move on
Sometimes one of you gets stuck in a particular stage or emotion. Very often its anger (resistance) but not always. If you’re struggling to get to a point where you can negotiate your future, you have two options: outsource your communication and negotiation to a third party; or get support (like counselling) to build your resilience and keep control of the process. All too often we see people being rushed by their spouse when they’re not ready. More often than not this pushes people into seeking help from lawyers to communicate for them and buy them some time. Unfortunately, once you go down this route the clock is ticking and time is money (billed in 6 minute blocks!). Allowing someone else to communicate for you, especially if you have children and will need to foster a long-term co-parenting relationship with your ex, is a very difficult place to come back from. Instead we recommend you get support, preferably from a professional (friends and family whilst sympathetic generally make things worse) – a few weeks of divorce counselling is a wise investment and will give you skills you can use throughout your divorce and later when communicating about the kids.
Divorce is tasks and documents – Get organised
You need to collate information about your finances if you’re separating or divorcing. Some information, such as the transfer value of any private pensions you hold, can take up to 12 weeks to be sent through from your pension company, so to keep things moving you’ll need to request this information immediately (you need these values for your divorce forms even if you are proposing to each keep your own pensions).
To divide what you have in a settlement, you first need to agree with your partner what you own – you can create a file of paper, excel spreadsheet or use our app to help. Our app lists all the financial information you need to submit to divorce or separate. It’s divided into helpful sections with pre-filled typical content – all you need to do is add your own values. The app allows you to upload images such as valuations, mortgage statements, rent agreements or bank statements, to evidence your asset list, making agreeing what you have as quick and straightforward as possible. You can share this information with your partner and you can both agree individual assets until you are happy you have a fully agreed list. Whichever way you go about it – having an up-to-date list of your assets and debt is essential to moving towards a settlement.
When you’re on the same page – swiftness pays
One of the things we know about divorce is that the longer it takes the more it costs. Whilst it’s important to start on the same page (as we’ve just discussed), once you’re there, it’s vital to conclude negotiations as swiftly as you can. Unless your partner is determined to shaft you, good will is higher at the start of the process than at the end so you’re more likely to reach an acceptable outcome (for both of you) earlier on in the process.
Start by sorting our any parenting decisions first. Writing a parenting plan is the best way to settle the kids quickly and makes sure you’re both clear on what’s been agreed and who’s responsible for what. Go to our specially created Parenting Plan section of the amicable app, to see what you need to agree and start communicating with your partner. When you’ve made arrangements for your children, you can then discuss the finances you need between you to allow you to look after the kids in the way you’ve agreed.
Endless back and forth over minor points wipes out goodwill and decreases trust. Staying pragmatic and focussed on the bigger picture rather than the smallest details will allow things to conclude with minimal emotional damage. Of course, there will be some lawyers who will argue against this (well, time is money!) preferring instead for every ‘what if’ and possible scenario to be thoroughly explored and dissected. It’s important to remember that what you feel you are entitled to, what the law says, and what is achievable to negotiate with your ex (without depleting your assets in a legal process) are all different things…. Your settlement lies somewhere in the middle of this.
Have a range of proposals not just ‘What you want’. Think about what’s really important to you and make a prioritised list. You won’t get everything. I’ll say that again… You won’t get everything! A good way of starting is to creating different proposals that vary the amount of capital you receive and the amount of maintenance you give or receive. This allows you to gauge what’s important to your partner and adjust how you present your options to each other.
Divorce and separation are complex, especially if children are involved. Being emotionally ready and organised are the two single biggest factors in negotiating a swift, acceptable and amicable outcome
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