What does a good financial settlement look like?

When I started advising divorcing couples, I read about a judge who said that if either party in a divorce is happy with the outcome, it is probably the wrong settlement. So, what does a good financial settlement look like?

Dividing your finances

Dividing your finances is not an exact science. However, there are some broad guidelines which give an indication of how they might be separated, with the starting point being 50:50. It is important to remember that the settlement will not be made to punish the person whose “fault” it is, even if you go to court for a judge to decide.

It is easy to begin with the thought that you are going to “take them for every penny.” However, that is likely to cost you both in the long run. The costs for taking your settlement all the way to court can only come from one place, the marital assets.

Good financial settlement

I recently met with Judith Klyne, a family solicitor from Hall Brown Solicitors in Manchester. She believes that:

“A ‘good’ divorce settlement is where the parties set aside any hurt and anger they are feeling, to come together and reach an agreement. When a ‘good’ divorce settlement has been reached, separating parties will have compromised with each other, to ensure the needs of any children and their respective needs are met. A ‘good’ divorce settlement is where both parties are honest and open with each other, to ensure that they each have the required financial information to achieve a fair outcome. Most importantly, a ‘good’ divorce settlement will see both parties walk away from the marriage with a clear conscience, knowing that they have approached the matter with integrity and respect for their previous spouse, minimising the impact of the breakdown of the marriage on the children.”

Whilst Judith’s view of a good divorce is not easily achieved and takes work from both divorcing parties, there is no doubt that it does indeed represent the best outcome for all involved.

Consider the children

Whilst the finances are important, it is essential to consider any children of the marriage first, establishing where they will live and how their time will be divided between both parents. Nichola Bright, Senior Solicitor in the family law department of Myerson, says:

“A good/acceptable offer would consider, primarily, the needs of any children. Where possible, the children of the family should have security of housing. That may mean that the primary carer’s housing needs are financially greater than the other spouse, to factor this in. That can justify a move away from equality.”

Other considerations

There are a number of other considerations that can justify a move away from an even division. Earning potential can be one of these. If one partner earns significantly more than the other, a larger proportion of the financial assets may be tilted towards the person with the lesser earning potential.

Another aspect to consider is achieving a clean break. A clean break means that neither party has an ongoing financial commitment to the other and all financial ties are broken as soon after divorce as possible. This is not always easy to achieve but it may be that the party who is weaker financially receives a lump sum from the other in lieu of maintenance.

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Tamsin Caine is a Chartered Financial Planner at Smart Divorce. She specialises in working with separating or divorcing clients to help them to understand how to divide their finances to move forward with their lives. If you would like to speak to Tamsin or find out more about how she can help, email her at Tamsin@smartdivorce.co.uk or call her on 07975 922766.

Guest Contributors

Nichola Bright is a Senior Solicitor at Myerson in Altrincham, Cheshire. She advises on a wide range of family matters including divorce and high net-worth financial settlements, separation, co-habitation, pre-nuptial agreements, complex disputes regarding children, fertility law and surrogacy law.

She is particularly experienced in international family law, including cross border children disputes. Nicola has previously dealt with cases in Israel, New Zealand, Australia, Turks & Caicos, South Africa, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Syria and the USA. Nichola also has specialist knowledge of the law surrounding assisted reproduction including egg/sperm donation and surrogacy, including the obtaining of Parental Orders. She has significant advocacy experience, having appeared in the High Court and local Family Courts regularly, which is extremely useful when negotiating the best result for her clients.

Nichola is a committed member of Resolution and has achieved specialist accreditation in complex financial remedies and private children law. Nichola has been practicing family law for the last 10 years and she can be contacted on Nichola.bright@myerson.co.uk.

Judith Klyne joined Hall Brown in March 2018, after completing her training contract at Kuits Solicitors in Manchester. Prior to commencing her training contract, Judith obtained two years’ experience working as a family paralegal, as well as spending time in the Private Client team.

Judith studied for her undergraduate Law degree at Liverpool University, before going on to achieve distinction in a Masters in Law at Queen Mary, University of London. She completed her Legal Practice Course at the University of Law, Bloomsbury. Judith has experience dealing with a wide variety of family matters, including complex financial remedy cases. She has also assisted in the drafting of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.

Judith has obtained invaluable exposure to tax planning and wills, both of which are integral to financial arrangements following divorce. Judith appreciates that clients going through divorce need an empathetic lawyer, who will explain things to them in simple English, rather than using complex legal jargon. She enjoys building relationships with her clients, so that she can assist their personal needs as best as possible. Contact Judith at Judith.klyne@hallbrown.co.uk.

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