5 Answers You Don’t Want to Hear From Your Lawyer

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1. Can I get this Divorce over and done with – I have a business to run?

The short answer is no. It is not possible to immediately resolve the financial issues that will arise as a result of your or your spouse’s decision to divorce. It takes time to establish what the assets are, and what settlement is appropriate.

Particularly, if you have a business, it may be necessary to get the business valued. It also may be necessary for you to disclose a lot more information than you would like to. The best way for you to speed up the process is by being co-operative and providing information when it is requested.

2. Why is this costing me so much - I don't need experts - I know what the assets are worth?

Normally the answer to this is because either you, or your spouse, have quite a complicated capital financial position, or it is hard to predict what the income will be going forward. Information may be required from either you, your spouse, or a third party such as an accountant before the solicitors can properly advise.

Obtaining information from experts does cost money, and it can be frustrating particularly where one person believes that they already know the answers. Ultimately, however,it is normally better to co-operate and pay to obtain the information that is needed, rather than refuse and then potentially face court proceedings, additional delay and expense.

Also note that with pensions the valuation (CETV) provided by the trustees is often just a starting point and more information may well be needed so that all options including pension sharing and offsetting can be considered.

3. Can I avoid providing full financial disclosure including 12 months bank statements etc.?

The short answer is yes, if both spouses agree, you can provide short summary disclosure in the form of a statement of information as opposed to the significantly longer Form EIt is however essential that the summary information is complete and accurate to avoid the potential for an application for an order to be set aside for non disclosure at a later date.

It is also only possible to simply have a summary disclosure if your spouse agrees.  It is not unusual for one spouse to have a much greater knowledge of the couple’s financial position than the other.

In these situations, the other spouse would normally want there to be full disclosure by way of Form E and attachments.

4. My friend got this result can you do the same for me?

No two divorces are the same. It is potentially dangerous to assume that what has happened to a member of your family, or work colleague, will be the same for you. By way of example, I have had people assume that they will get a clean break because a work colleague has, without appreciating that that colleague has a spouse earning considerably more than their own.

Likewise with family trusts, whether these are taken into account does not just depend on the availability of the trust, but also the need of the person looking for financial provision from the trust. This may vary between in-laws so to speak.

5. How long is this process going to take?

In the same way as with costs, the short answer is it depends. Personally, I have had cases where my involvement has been limited to preparing a consent order after a couple have reached an agreement, and then sending the appropriate paperwork to the court, with my involvement lasting just a month or two.

Equally, I have a case where it is over 20 years since decree nisi, but the couple have decided to deal with their assets piecemeal. There will not be a final order until the last piece of land has sold. Your lawyer may be able to give you a likely estimate, but this will depend on whether the other person is willing to co-operate. So do not be surprised if the bracket seems large, for example, 6 to 12 months.

It is important to appreciate that there are no silly questions so far as your lawyer is concerned. If you have heard things, or want to compare your situation with that of a friend, then it is always sensible to ask.

Do not, however, be surprised if the answer that you get is not exactly what you were hoping for, or is not as specific as what you would expect from a lawyer.

Written by Kirstie Law Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator at Thomson Snell & Passmore. www.ts-p.co.uk

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