In this episode Tamsin is joined by Christopher Foster, who is himself a financial adviser. He speaks of the importance of taking professional advice, even if you think that you know what you are doing. He also shows how it is possible to resolve things amicably despite your emotions and end up with a happy ever after as he has recently married a wonderfully supportive lady.
Director of Financial Planning and Chartered Financial Planner Tamsin Caine has a strong background of over 15 years within the financial services profession. She began Smart Divorce following her own experience with divorce; she now advises people in the same situation as she once was, enabling them to take back control of their life and finances. Smart Divorce website is www.smartdivorce.co.uk.
If you need any help with sorting your finances out during your divorce, please drop Tamsin an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)
Tamsin Caine 0:06
Hello and welcome to the smart divorce podcast. This podcast is for you if you’re thinking of separating already separated or going through divorce. My name is Tamsin Caine and I’m a Chartered Financial Planner will speak to some fantastic specialists who can help you to get through your divorce hopefully amicably and start your new chapter positively. Now over to today’s guest Hi, and welcome to this first podcast. My name is Tamsin Caine. I’m a Chartered Financial Planner, and I help individuals and couples. So sorting their finances out as they separate and divorce. Today, I’m joined by Christopher Foster, who is now happily married again. However, he divorced his first wife twice. And we talked about that, along with how emotions can take control of your actions during divorce, and the importance of taking the step to get counselling. Chris talks about how the sopranos encouraged him to go in and see somebody and you’ll hear that story later on. He also talks about the importance of looking at your pensions as well as your house when you’re going through divorce. And not just assuming that whoever had those pensions and built them up in the first place is entitled to keep them. I’ll now pass you over to Chris, please enjoy. Hello, and welcome to this smart divorce podcast. I’m delighted to be joined today by Chris Foster. Hi, Chris. How you doing?
Unknown Speaker 1:47
I’m great. Thanks. Great.
Tamsin Caine 1:50
Excellent. Do you want to start by just introducing yourself?
Christopher Foster 1:56
Sure. My name is Chris Christopher. I was married for around 20 years. Now remarried. Last October. I’ve got two adult children that live with one stepson was with my new wife. And I still see my youngest daughter at gs 18 twice a week, it was three times full lockdown. So I feel very fortunate in that. And the eldest works in our business for a while. And we’ve got a good relationship with the kids as well as the devil. So And currently, I’ve got my own business, which along with my wife and a business partner, and I’m finding it a bit strange in a minute, but nevertheless getting through Okay, and watch more fortunately, many people, so that’s good. Oh,
Tamsin Caine 2:43
brilliant. So how long ago did you go through your divorce?
Christopher Foster 2:49
Well, I divorced the same woman twice. And the last time we divorced, it was about two and a half years ago was when it was final.
Unknown Speaker 2:58
So do you want to explain that? middle Did you divorce marry divorce?
Christopher Foster 3:06
Yeah, we just for a tiny bit of context without going into it. And we discussed some infidelity in the relationship, decided to have to divorce it, because of the principles about marriage and all sorts of stuff. But while we’re still living together, and that took some time, because I couldn’t divorce her at the time, for reasons you might mention later. But when that was possible, I divorced her. Then because I was still living there. And the financial situation was complex. We decided to remark it specifically for finances. Although, in hindsight, that wasn’t quite what my ex wife interpreted it as. And shortly after getting married again, I realised it was completely stupid and left in it and then divorced her again. So all the product, perhaps the intensity of the emotions that fly around when you’re doing these things.
Tamsin Caine 4:02
Yeah, no, absolutely. So I guess from the point of separation, I guess that kind of second time you decided to divorce? Well, how did you go about it? What was the process?
Christopher Foster 4:22
A second time? Yeah. So the the the first time I both mentioned actually because because it couldn’t divorce for the first time because it found out we didn’t own our house due to legal error. And so that that delayed things and and it was delayed things quite a lot. It was very, very stressful not being able to divorce. And I clearly remember and it this is a way to talk about this. I mentioned it at least I’ve kind of started the wheels are going in terms of divorce, but I knew I couldn’t press the button on it to request an IC or whatever the process is. And I wasn’t sure that I do that. I really wasn’t sure. Even even when the property was salted to a large extent to allow a divorce to happen. And I remember sitting in the office at about five to nine one day, this was when I was employed. And I got a note through from the lawyers at the building society, I’m officers with saying that we’ve finally sorted this issue with property rights. And, and without even thinking about it, I immediately emailed the other lawyer to commence the divorce proper. And it was quite a shock to me, because I hadn’t known that I was going to do that. And yet I still did it. And I thought that was interesting that the things are going on inside you don’t even know yourself, if that makes sense. Yeah, and that all also got put sweat in the end. And then the second time I’d left, it must have been it was the June we got married. And it was in November, I left home. And I committed to divorce as soon as for April. So we went for the two year separation thing. And I did that myself via the internet. And to be fair, I think because I’ve been through it all. So recently, it was it was reasonably straightforward. And I just used an online service that kind of gathered documents gonna send them to the court, I was doing it myself. And it all went through fairly quickly. I had to threaten to serve my ex wife at work with the with the papers, because she just wouldn’t sign them. And she did. And she did the same thing the first time around. And I did the same thing to solve it. And that was threatened server at work. And she she capitulated and signed the papers. So other than that, it was all fairly smooth process. So
Unknown Speaker 6:40
So was there anything that you felt that during going through it yourself? And you looking back now you might have got some value for taking some advice?
Christopher Foster 6:56
And I mean, it’s a bit different, because because I deal with them anyway, for clients. Obviously, I’m not a lawyer, I’m an advisor. I kind of I’ve already seen people go through from the legal side, and I wasn’t dealing with the financial side. That’s that’s a really important point to make. And that’s still not been dealt with even though we attempted to deal with it. I think had I been less. And I know for a fact, in fact, having seen all the people and clients especially go through this process, unless you’re really confident about what are you doing, you have to get legal advice. And I was the second time, I could only do it by myself, because I’ve used the law the first time, if that makes sense. He was kind of an arm’s length guy, being honest, not that helpful. But he just told us about a few of the pitfalls where people think get emotionally involved in a divorce when it’s just a paperwork process. Of course, it’s like a blow receiving absolute, like a physical blow. But from a cost perspective, it’s just paperwork, Solis. And you don’t need to be blaming people or putting things in that don’t need to be put in. So when I remember when I first approached a lawyer, I was like, I want to do this and put this on the paper consumer for this. And, you know, he, he was very good at not quite calming me down. But give me a reality check and say no, no, you need to do it like this. It’s an awful process for a reason. And, and, and guiding me through, albeit somewhat from time. So without that first lot of advice. I think I couldn’t have done it by myself. I don’t think actually because it’ll mess you up really badly.
Tamsin Caine 8:23
Yeah, it sounds as though he kind of was quite good at taking the heat out of the situation. And helping you work out what was important.
Christopher Foster 8:31
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And even then, I mean, I’d say I mean, we, you know, we still get on kind of thing and listen, like, we’re best mates. We don’t go to dinner, but but we still get on the x. and emotionally, it was extremely acrimonious. From a, from a divorce perspective, it wasn’t there was no pushback, necessarily. You know, we’ve never argued about the kids. There’s none of the usual stuff that went on. But even so that I think I didn’t realise certainly that emotions can as I described a minute ago, when I was saying that my immediate reaction getting that email was to fail. And I think no one’s gonna do it. I think what really powerful lesson I learned is your emotions can completely take over and you don’t you don’t necessarily I didn’t necessarily think rationally when I thought I was no no, I’m saying Well, I do you know, I deal with clients all the time and professional and money and all this business and think because of that I’m rational, I’m not and having to professionally volt was great. And I know you know what, for myself I’ve helped clients through divorces and it’s it’s amazing sometimes just sitting down with them and saying, Have you thought about this if you thought about this to be thought about this? And kind of like go into their eyes and it’s because if you if you’re in that situation you don’t think that’s the point you don’t think about these other things because you it doesn’t mean you selfish just don’t think or or too wrapped up. He said he said it’s just a horrible process in a way, you know, mechanics of it. It’s just anyway, so yeah.
Tamsin Caine 10:00
Do you think just going back to something you said a couple of minutes ago? About that you waited for? You did it as soon as you could. But you waited for the two years of separation before you started the process off?
Unknown Speaker 10:15
Tamsin Caine 10:16
Do you think when because obviously no fault divorce is currently going through Parliament. It’s been accepted by the House of Lords. And it’s going to come back to Parliament, and hopefully to receive Royal Assent. If that had been available to you, would that have meant you would have started the process earlier?
Christopher Foster 10:39
You know, what, I’ll be honest. Probably not. Because there are other complications in life, even the second time over? I think. I think some people need that, by the way, I’m up funding of my, my current wife went through divorce. And she could have done with it going faster. But my personal opinion is, is you’ve kind of made this promise and, and two years is not a lot of time in the scheme of things. But I’m not sure what what the legislation referred to is to be honest, I know you could have sued for full, but I needed proof. And I would have had not had the advice in the first place, I would have tried my best to get it. But that would have been foolish and counsel dogs. If so I’m not not sure what to make of that. But I would say I don’t think I’ve gone for it sooner. Because just because I think because because having been through it once before, so So recently, it’s such a painful process. And I was glad to the waiting time because it gives you kind of some emotional distance. And that’s that’s important.
Tamsin Caine 11:46
That’s interesting to hear you say that because I think so the legislation is that if you currently if you get divorced, sooner than the two years of separation, then you have to blame the other person or something, you have to accuse them of unreasonable behaviour or, or infidelity which will not go into but but no fall is is an important thing, because it allows you to start the divorce proceedings earlier than two years of separation, if you if that’s important to you. And and it means that you can do that without throwing blame around which again, I think helps.
Christopher Foster 12:33
Yeah, I can’t stress enough I agree completely the no fault. And it really, and again, looking back and combats the first time because it was just more or less a two, a two minute conversation with a lawyer to save me from so much trouble and hike, because I went for no fault first time as well. So irreconcilable differences. I think he wants to do something, or he could even anyway, the point being that I was I was fired up for the shortfall. And you know what, we’re the distance of time.
Unknown Speaker 13:04
I think is better having I think it’s better removing the ability because it can’t see what it achieves.
Christopher Foster 13:11
Other than making an emotional point, I’m not sure that’s appropriate. So I think the distance of time is, has made me appreciate that even more. So sounds like a chase to me.
Tamsin Caine 13:22
Yeah, no, absolutely. So you mentioned before that, that you haven’t got to a point where their finances are sorted out. I’m assuming that they were massive complications.
Christopher Foster 13:38
We’re there’s a combined thing of my now ex wife dealing with a complicated estate. And it’s difficult to try and simplify it sufficiently. But suffice it to say that I did, I did try. I was involved in in her suing her, one of her brothers, voluntarily and they asked me to help because of how much I knew about the case. And what that meant was if I went through a divorce, and a financial settlement, say two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to we couldn’t establish the value of my wife’s assets. And now, I took the view of the time just to leave it because it wasn’t bothered. In fact, when I left I was asked to pay loads of bills and stuff and still pay some bills because I’m just not bothered about it. It’d be nice to have some clarity. But even now, it’s still not been resolved. I did try to start start resolving it about a year 18 months ago thinking it was ended up paying 6000 pounds in legal fees. And I’m not exaggerating to say I got nowhere because the ex was acting in bad faith, unfortunately. refused to sign stuff wouldn’t fill forms in It just was becoming. And again, I keep using the word because it’s such a big factor, is there an emotional drain in the financial world? And I couldn’t, I couldn’t face up to it financially or emotionally. So about 6000 pounds is spent and got got nothing for it. And just took the view that Sorry, I’ve just, it’s just not important. It means I’ve got I’ve walked away with nothing from from 20 years of work and investment. But I’ve got half ownership of something somewhere. When that, I’ll benefit from that. I don’t know. So, the file societies, and I’ve seen this happen with clients where they’ll throw 30,000 pounds of fees, again, 10,000 quid or something. I’ve seen cases where a husband is definitely not paying a mortgage to get a house repossessed. So it will be sold and the wife and me, it’s just, you know, and I wouldn’t have even attempted to do that without a lawyer. So even though, you know, I’m not going to say I wasted those fees. I’m gonna say I tried and failed, essentially. So I don’t use ever gonna resolve to be honest.
Tamsin Caine 16:04
I Oh, Crikey. That’s tricky, isn’t it? Looking back? And looking back on things now? Is there anything that you would have done differently?
Christopher Foster 16:19
It’s a really interesting question, but I can’t think of anything that would be abused. You know, I mean, I could be what is flipping a little bit and say, well left before we had kids? Because Because at that point, I knew I knew the relationship wasn’t great. And I would, I’d wrote some notes here. And actually, because I said, I’ve got a written question, would you What would you do for what I wrote was be more resolute recognise abuse, or be a better person, myself, and not be so easygoing about money? and be more thoughtful about my new wife’s feelings through the process? Because she’s been just amazing. And somehow stopped the children from being involved. But I don’t know how I would have done that. And then the last thing boys Left, left before we had children. So I’m not saying I did everything right. I didn’t, but I don’t present with the same choice. I don’t know what what I could have done differently. Not to say that I think I did everything right. Because it didn’t. It was really complicated. And I don’t remember some of it. And that’s your thing. I can’t remember about two years of my life. Because you just, and I was when I was starting new business, which isn’t ideal, but it’s, you know, it’s just so intense. So I think to get out of it, you know, reasonably sane, and with an okay, life is just a massive result. So
Tamsin Caine 17:44
yeah, no, absolutely. When you say about not involving the children, that’s, that’s a really interesting point. How would you have done that differently?
Christopher Foster 17:58
I don’t know. Lex is not not a bad person. She was so distraught, she would offload on the children. But also she’d manufacture arguments when I was in what was a small house. And the children saw and heard things that that are really bitterly regret. And he losing sleep at night, sometimes because of it. And I should have been stronger. And I’ve got drawn in. I’m not saying that’s her fault, necessarily. Because, you know, it’s a really difficult situation. I should have walked away. And you know, what should I do? Well, sometimes you prevent that, because there’s only one door in the house this time by shouldn’t be just short, DC, I should have been stronger. And so the children were involved in a manipulative way. You know, I’ve got to say that there was never any there’s never been any shenanigans with childcare. And some of the things I see is shocking. But, but it just seems to preserve what they saw and heard. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. And looking back, it was it was horrible. And I wish I wish I would have thought about that more. But there’s so much going on your head that you’re just trying to kind of cope, you know, so it’s just that I would have, I would have been stronger and believed in myself more in a way. So that’s interesting.
Tamsin Caine 19:19
How do you think you’re having gone through divorce has changed things for you now? Other than clearly, being married to some somebody different hasn’t changed the way that you look at things, your Outlook, the things that you’re doing in your life now?
Christopher Foster 19:44
I hope you don’t mind me saying this. But my new wife says that I’m a lot less patient with hers and she feels like a would be with, say, the baby because because I think I think I’ve gone from being sort of too easy, and too easygoing about stuff to being not easygoing enough. I do not do know, though, has changed me in terms of wanting to be a better person, definitely and be more aware of how I treat people. Because whatever the rights and wrongs were of a marriage breakup, that there’s no excuse for some things. But there is no excuse either for not being nice to someone, I recognise that I wasn’t always nice to my ex. And I try my best now to be different because of that. So I want and we both want now, not to be the people who were in our previous marriages, because it takes two people to run a car off the road, sometimes not always. So I’m very aware of that side of things and try and try to be more empathetic and thoughtful, although I feel I am an empathetic and thoughtful person. But do you see perhaps when I was in a relationship, after sort of 15 years, you forget to be empathetic and thoughtful to the other person, the most important person in your life. So I hope not to lose sight of that, this time around, you know, I want to learn from it. It’s the point. And so someone will get something out of it, you know, so,
Tamsin Caine 21:11
yeah, I think that’s really interested in a thing. Even, even in a situation where it appears clear, whose fault if you like it, that the marriage breakdown was the accepting responsibility on both sides, for some of the things that you might not have been 100% honest, is a really valuable thing to to, to kind of be able to look back and look back and see, it’s, it’s really interesting to, to hear you say that.
Christopher Foster 21:43
I must, I must say, when, when things first went wrong, and I discovered what was going on. We went to relate a couple. Yeah. And it was one of the worst experiences of my life. And we both agreed it was absolutely terrible for us, but maybe for different people, I think the counsellor we got there was was shocking. In hindsight, well, I did do was get individual counselling, and near the end of our sessions was relate and that absolutely saved my life. You know, it enabled me to, to, to get some confidence back and gain some grounding. And I’m still I’m still in counselling. Now. I was regular as it was, and it’s a different counsellor. But that was an absolute key part of me starting to recover really, and gain enough confidence to, to give my life direction again, and, and realise that that is sort of like those cliches, but it’s true, you know, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and things can change. And you’re not a bad person necessarily. And no, no, I’m not, I’m not suggesting anybody’s bad in this at all for a second book, because it’s easy to look at one thing in your life and in the history of 20 years, forget all the good things, you know, and that’s, that’s not fair. And anybody so I’m not, I’m not confident in the process itself was horrible. You know, and I see a lot of people go through, unfortunately, through my job, as well as through life. But there’s, there’s, there’s definitely ways of dealing with it. And that counselling for me was a key part. And that’s a key part of why I’ve changed as well. So not change, hopefully changed. And
Tamsin Caine 23:18
it’s quite a think it’s unusual in in this country, although it seems to be becoming more common for people to talk about the fact that they’re seeing a counsellor or a therapist, and it’s something that we associate with the US I guess, more than in the UK and we seem to be ashamed and almost have been having a difficulty there is a stigma and you know, that we’re actually talking during Mental Health Awareness Week in Toronto. And, and I think it’s really important for people to know that, actually, during divorce, it’s one of the most emotionally charged things you’ll ever go to. It’s one of the hardest things that you’ll ever go through in your life and needing some emotional support. And that side of advice as well as the practical you know, the help to sort your finances out and approaching a specialist in that area to work out where you go next and, and what settlements mean to you financially and getting some legal advice, as well as I think it’s so important to get that emotional support as well and have somebody to get you through this. On that side of things.
Christopher Foster 24:38
I fell in love, I’m just rewatching with your wife and i re watching The Sopranos and the first main part of that is Tony Soprano, getting, you know, seen a senior counsellor, stroke psychiatrist and of course there’s a big stigma in this community about that and, and I can’t help but feel like because I’ve watched it when it first came out that that that helped me sort of get over the loss of to see someone like that. I kind of feel and it’s been. I mean, ironically, the second counsellor engaged after, was actually through my wife’s ex wife’s work plan. But he had been had been violent, and I don’t think it would have perhaps gone through it in the same shape or say, I’m not sitting on same in great shape. I can’t stress enough, by the way, I know, we’ve kind of got an agenda here. And I can’t stress enough that it’s really important to get more than one specialist involved. If you’re not I mean, obviously, I’m, I know exactly what I’m doing with money. But if you don’t use a lawyer is good process in divorce paper, and a financial advisors got to deal with the financial side, because that’s probably qualified. And you need both not just one, because I’ve seen people try and do one without the other, it never works. In the same ways, even I got a lawyer, and you know, in hindsight, I really needed it. But on the other side, is so important. And I can’t stress this enough on things like your pensions and things because it’s the biggest asset, my ex wife didn’t get an advisor, a lawyer didn’t really understand them. And she walked away with nothing. On the pension side, nothing. And her ex husband is going off of a pension that, well irresolute has got a very decent pension. And she walks away with nearly nothing for a relationship because the lawyer didn’t understand it. So and that’s not to say anyone’s punishing anybody. It’s just someone invest 10 years, your life somewhere, and you’ve made career choices, because of that. Something is an asset that that should be separated in the same way as the house should be so sorry, I hope you don’t feel like you know, I’m not trying to absolutely, completely strange people go through it, and then you’ll see him afterwards. You see, oh, God if you do this differently, you know, so so I’m very fortunate that I didn’t I didn’t need that made a difference, by the way.
Tamsin Caine 26:52
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, was that your one piece of advice that you’d give a friend or or have you got a one piece of advice that you’d give a friend who is in the early stages of separation and
Christopher Foster 27:07
your role paragraph one piece of advice would you give a friend I’ve given him six pieces of advice and the last one is don’t listen to people giving advice but
you you know, and I do each case is the same but different fundamentally different even though that it looks the same from the outside and the one thing I do see is, is people prevaricating you know what I did for years and it did a lot of harm and if there’s one thing I’d say is get counselling for yourself for yourself not as a couple for yourself get is completely warranted because that can give you some space and you can get somebody trusted that’s not involved in it and sometimes you feel your friends are involved you know, because they bought in for you. But we can feel like they’re not buying for your ex and might you might feel like someone that you know if that makes sense you think well that’s not quite fair because she’s not that bad or he’s not that bad. And I found that getting counselling gave me some space, give me some space so if there’s one piece of advice and say get get a decent counsellor to talk to and even if they don’t give you advice, it gives you a space to think to think hang on that doesn’t sound quite right to me so so that’s what I’d say.
Unknown Speaker 28:24
He’s gonna give us their their five pieces of advice that when
Christopher Foster 28:29
I say I see friends, especially with my new wife, grow casing, be decisive, get counselling, value yourself, or put in bold, or being lonely is quite good. Really. I was terrified of being alone. And I’ve been told for years that I wouldn’t cope very well. And I was cold Berlin. Guess what some some common sense advice for someone you trust and trust you got so far gone, actually. And I remember trying to leave a few times. And I couldn’t do it. I was afraid for the kids. And ultimately, I was I was afraid of being alone because I had never been alone up until that point when I was 21. And you know, I was worried. And it took courage to actually go nevermind, divorce process. And one on one. I remember the day I left, it felt like a massive weight lifting. And I never struggled with loneliness really. And I always managed to deal with Washington cognitive stuff. So all the things you might worry about. They’re not there just go away because loads of people cope with it. But when you’re in this situation, it’s it doesn’t feel like that. And it feels like you know, it’s impossible and it’s not so but sometimes you need someone to help unlock that.
Tamsin Caine 29:41
Now I absolutely agree with that. It is it’s a really difficult thing to go through and and but you’re right, you can get through it. You know, you just need the right support and advice in place to help you to do that. And, but ya know, Totally agree with you that I totally agree with you. Is there anything that you want to add to what you said? No.
Christopher Foster 30:10
I’ve somewhat glossed over this. In the same vein as I couldn’t have done this without my new wife, oui, oui, oui, oui. We started relationships. As soon as I left home, if I slightly foreign, I was dead honest about that. She was immensely supportive. So I was very, very lucky as well. And I shouldn’t gloss over that for a second. And Eve, even when I’d left and, and I told her that I didn’t want any further relationships all the time, she waited for me, and she’s, you know, she, she was as much of a counsellor as anybody for my sister, she, you know, I was extremely fortunate, and I don’t want that to be glossed over. Because an important part of the story that was a thing, you know, I would have done it anyway. And I’d already planned to leave. But, you know, it gave me a grounding. And I just want to stress again, the thing about when I left, I can’t I can’t remember most of my life for that two years. So whether it’s a little bit of a breakdown, I don’t know. But that’s what you got to get through a normal life emotionally is 1,000,000% better, so. And you, you realise that the things can be nice people can be nice to you. And, and and want to be with you and all these other things. So it sounds sorry, it sounds awful dramatic point, sir. No,
Tamsin Caine 31:28
you’re right. Absolutely does that the fact that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and that the you know, you meet somebody that that you want to commit to even having gone through divorce because I think a lot of people find it really difficult to see how they could ever put themselves in that position again, but but you can get there and and you guys are definitely living proof if it if the value if Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much for joining me today, Chris. It’s been fantastic.
Unknown Speaker 32:03
It’s been a pleasure. Thank you for listening.
Tamsin Caine 32:09
Thank you for listening to the smart divorce podcast. If you’d like details of our guests today or of myself so you can get in touch. Please check out the programme notes. Many thanks. See you again soon.
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