Reviewing the finances following divorce or separation
Divorce and separation can be one of the most stressful times of your life, up there with the death of a loved one. With emotions running high there are a range of areas that need muddling through as the separation of the family unit starts to unfold.
The family finances come under scrutiny and a way to divide them brings further emotional turmoil and for most the realisation of short and long-term financial uncertainty. What was once “ours” becomes “mine,” with attempts to split pensions, homes, TV’s and children and even the pet fish straight down the middle comes with its challengers for all involved.
Red roses are turned blue……
We would all like to think we are fair to the other in separating the finances but with so much emotion involved this is not always easy, as each party fights for what they feel is rightly theirs. It can be difficult to put aside feelings of who’s done what and who was to blame. Irrational behavior kicks in as you find it hard to believe you actually lived under the same roof with each other. Words of profound love are exchanged for scathing accusations that turn the once red roses of love a deep shade of blue.
Splitting the Family Finances
When it comes to splitting the family finances it’s really easy to just think short term, as quite often Its difficult to see the future. Whilst for many keeping the children in the family home is a priority, this may not be affordable going forward. The joint income which previously provided a comfortable lifestyle is now divided to usually fund two homes and for most a new frugal lifestyle emerges.
For many women losing their financial security, dealing with their own day to day finances, maintaining a home and juggling the children on their own can be a very daunting aspect. It can be difficult to see a financial future built on resilience and sustainability for the long-term. Plans for enjoying your retirement years together are obliterated with the possible reality that you may be spending them on your own with very little financial provisions in place to fund it.
As women we find it difficult to talk about money to friends and family, but remember there is lots of support available and you are not the first person to go through this and won’t be the last.
What Needs Reviewing
- Financial areas you should review following a divorce or separation:
- Your retirement planning including updating expression of wish forms and getting a state pension forecast to start your new retirement plan
- Life and protection including updating beneficiary forms and possible re-arranging to meet new needs
- Updating of Wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys
- Employers death benefit nominations under death in service schemes and any flexible benefits
- Review any debts, mortgages and what repayment plans need to be in place
Research shows women suffer unfairness in the divorce process, usually due to lack of access to legal representation, partners frequently excluding their pensions from settlement, and widely inaccurate perceptions about the real value of pensions cited as reasons why they are being impacted in this way.
*Research suggests that women are disproportionately affected by pension loss in the divorce process as outlined below show:
- 48% of women have no idea what happens to pensions when couples get divorced
- 22% say they would discuss pensions as part of a divorce
- 27% who discussed pensions during a divorce had no pension pot of their own
- 24% had a pension pot smaller than their husband’s
- 16% lost access to a pension when they split from a partner
- 10% who lost pension access in a divorce intend to rely completely on the State Pension.
It also raises the issue of when pension contributions have been made to a pension from joint surplus income or salary sacrifice, which otherwise may have been put into joint savings. One party will not benefit from these contributions in the splitting of assets if pension savings are to be ignored.
There is widespread misconception about protections for co-habiting partners who split with research suggesting 37% of people mistakenly believe in a concept of ‘common law marriage’ that cohabiting couples the same legal protections as marriage. This means a significant proportion of the growing numbers of women in long-term-cohabiting unmarried relationships could be “sleepwalking” towards a separation from which they will be left with drastically less than they have assumed.
Given the figures above it is really important that you seek legal advice in relation to the family assets and remember to think about your long-term future and how you will provide for yourself in retirement.
From my own experience, take small steps and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s good to talk to someone who has been through it, you will survive divorce/separation and come through it a better person, evolving along the journey often becoming a more resourceful and confident person with a better understanding of life.
It may be difficult in the early days to see life on your own as you make adjustments, but it can be the start of a wonderful journey that sees you learning about yourself and for many an empowering experience.
Take time out where you can to try new things. It may seem difficult at first given you are emotionally drained and finding it hard to juggle everything, especially if you have to work more hours or you are now doing more of the care-giving. Don’t feel guilty about getting a babysitter and let family members and friends help out and enjoy time to yourself.
Whilst it’s hard to let the children spend time with the other parent at first, why not use this time to try new things, hobbies, further education or gaining new skills.
Spend time with friends, new and old or join a gym. A good idea is to keep a diary, adding anything new you do, or try. It’s surprising a year later down the road to look back and how positive this will feel about where your life is going and what you have achieved.
Writing this made me smile as I reminisced at my own divorce and the lessons I learnt, knowing it does get better over time and that it can be a positive experience on your life. I am also able to share my experience to help clients feel confident about going forwards and managing their own finances.
To arrange a free initial consultation call me on 0113 243 2266 or email email@example.com to help you start to plan your financial future.
I look forward to hearing from you and good luck on your journey.
The above information is provided for informational purposes and constitutes the writers own opinions and should not be regarded, or intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual, any specific financial services product, legal or tax advice.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not regulate legal advice or tax advice. If you need advice in these areas then seek the professional services of a suitably qualified person.