Costly mistakes when couples divorce


Divorce is never easy and is an emotional time for all concerned. Don’t let your emotions cause costly mistakes.

It’s all too easy to become embroiled in who is right and who is wrong and lose sight of the long term position. Here are some of the costly mistakes people make when divorcing.

Not considering mediation

​Mediation can save you thousands of pounds in legal fees and emotional turmoil. An agreement reached at mediation can be turned into a court order which is binding and enforceable without the need for a lengthy, exhausting court battle. An agreed settlement will always feel better than one that has been imposed on the parties by a Judge.

Hiring an aggressive lawyer as punishment

Divorce settlements are based on fairness, need and sharing and whilst there is no formula, the factors that the courts have regard to are set out in S25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. The courts will not, as a rule, punish your spouse for being a bad person.

Not producing an accurate budget

Clients invariably under estimate their expenses and then later on in the process realise that they have forgotten the “one offs” such as payments made on a yearly basis, the emergency payments and so forth. Take time to really consider what you pay out for. You will be surprised at how those little things add up.

Not being realistic

Two households cost more to operate than one. If the income is unchanged, there has to be compromise on both parts.

Don’t forget the tax man

The rules on capital gains tax, stamp duty and so forth change on a regular basis. Don’t forget to factor in there may well be liabilities that need paying before you get your share of the pot.

Consider using other experts too

As good as your lawyers may be, they aren’t therapists, counsellors or financial advisors. It may be that you need to deal with all sorts of emotional issues following the breakdown of your marriage before making decisions that can affect the rest of your life. You may need a financial expert to provide you with a snapshot of your finances and your options going forward with borrowing, pensions etc. Consider working with other experts at an early stage.

Don’t disregard inflation

The effects of inflation on a child’s college or university education can be dramatic.

Don’t forget to update your estate documents

After a divorce most people don’t want to see their lawyer any time soon. However, divorce affects inheritance and if you have not already made a new will, now is the time to do so. Also remember to change the beneficiaries on life insurance policies, retirement accounts and so forth.

Consider insuring the divorce settlement

Life and disability insurance can guarantee payments and your family’s security in the event of premature death or disability of your former spouse.

More information

Our family law specialists are trained to advise and assist couples in these situations to resolve matters, whether that be by way of negotiation or via the court. The team includes members of the Law Society’s Family Panel and Advanced Family Panel, accredited Resolution specialists and Collaborative Family Lawyers. ​

 If you would like more information please contact our Family Law Department.

We offer a free initial 30-minute consultation for all new family law enquiries. You can book your free initial family consultation using our online booking form or by calling your local office. This half hour appointment will allow you to explain the situation with an expert lawyer and discuss the best steps to minimise delays.This article was written by Catherine Polli, Partner in the Family Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of January 2020.


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