It’s a common question once you are separated. For example, are you allowed to replace a car, go on holiday, carry out work on your home, buy new clothes. Our panel will guide you in this episode.
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Sarah is a specialist family solicitor and managing director at Nicholls Solicitors.
Sarah has extensive experience in all areas of private family law and is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in family finances and child arrangements. Sarah most commonly deals with divorce, financial relief and children matters. Her cases on financial relief often involve complex business and foreign assets. Sarah has good working relationships with specialist barristers, financial advisors and other experts to call upon their expertise where required.
Sarah is also regularly instructed in respect of pre and post nuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements.
Sarah has recently completed ‘what about Henry’ training with a clinical child psychologist to better understand how to support families and particularly children who are dealing with family separation.
Client’s and colleagues recognise Sarah’s personal, down to earth and sensitive approach but she is someone who is not afraid to fight for clients’ to ensure a fair outcome. Sarah is regularly recommended and has built up strong reputation in the family law field.
Susan is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who has specialised in relationship counselling since 1998. Based in Altrincham, Cheshire and South Manchester, Susan works with couples in matrimonial or dispute situations, helping to mediate and find compromise no matter the context.
Susan qualified with the Academy of Curative Hypnotherapy and holds the Counselling Advanced Level 4 Diploma. She is registered with the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) and is a member of the College of Medicine. Susan has appeared on BBC TV and hosts her own afternoon chat show on Trafford Sound radio.
Contact Susan here
Katherine is an associate in the family law team based in London. She acts for clients in all areas of family law, including divorce, financial disputes, private law children work and injunctive proceedings. Katherine has gained very considerable experience in complex international cases, with extensive work on numerous domestic cases. She is a member of Resolution and sits on its Working Together Committee. You can contact Katherine here: email@example.com
Tamsin is a Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years experience. She works with couples and individuals who are at the end of a relationship and want agree how to divide their assets FAIRLY without a fight.
You can contact Tamsin at firstname.lastname@example.org or arrange a free initial meeting using this link. She is also part of the team running Facebook group Separation, Divorce and Dissolution UK
Tamsin Caine MSc., FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner
Smart Divorce Ltd
P.S. I am the co-author of “My Divorce Handbook – It’s What You Do Next That Counts”, written by divorce specialists and lawyers writing about their area of expertise to help walk you through the divorce process. You can buy it by scanning the QR code…
(The transcript has been created by an AI, apologies for any mistakes)
Tamsin Caine 0:06
When you’re going through divorce, it’s it’s really difficult to know what is okay to spend from the joint money that you might have? Are you allowed to go on holiday? Are you allowed to get the car fixed? Are you allowed to engage with a solicitor with their financial planner with a divorce coach or a therapist? All of these questions are tricky to answer. And, as always, or as very often with these things. The answer is probably “it depends.” But these are some of the questions we’re going to be answering and looking at in this week’s podcast. We also talk about what happens if there’s a financial power imbalance as well? What process do you need to go through? And how can you make sure that you’re getting sufficient professional advice, as well as your ex? I hope you enjoyed the episode. I hope you find it useful. Let’s jump right in. Hello, and welcome to the Smart Divorce podcast. I am back with my panel of esteemed experts again today. And we’re going to be talking about what money you are able to spend during your divorce process. And this is a question that I get all the time and we’re very lucky to be joined by a panel who will be able to help us to answer this question. So I hope you’ll find our conversation very useful. I’m going to start off by asking my experts to introduce themselves. So I’ll start with me. I’m Tamsin Caine. I’m a divorce specialist financial planner, and I’m delighted to welcome Katie Harding. Katie, welcome again.
Katherine Harding 1:52
Thanks for having me again. Yes, I’m Katie Harding. I’m a family law solicitor as a firm called Penningtons Manches Cooper in London. And I will work across the whole breadth of family law issues, say for Public Law, which includes the divorce, the child arrangements, the finances and everything else in between.
Tamsin Caine 2:11
Fabulous, thank you, just just so that we can help our audience understand what’s Public Law.
Katherine Harding 2:19
Public Law is predominantly care cases where the local authority becomes involved.
Tamsin Caine 2:25
Fantastic. Thank you. That was really for me as much as for the audience because I hadn’t got a clue. And next we have Sarah Birdssey. Welcome Sarah. How are you doing?
Sarah Birdsey 2:35
Morning. Thank you very much for having me. I’m good. Thank you. So I’m Sarah Birdsey. I’m from the firm of solicitors in Altrincham called Nicholls Solicitors. I’m a specialist as family solicitor, I’m resolution accredited as a specialist in family finance and children applications. And I deal with again, similar to Katie; so family finance, divorce, separation and children’s applications.
Tamsin Caine 3:02
Fantastic Thank you. And last, but by no means least, is very lovely Susan Leigh. How are you doing? Susan?
Susan Leigh 3:10
I’m good. Thank you. It’s a lovely day. So it’s not that accurate. So I’m Susan Leigh. I am a counsellor and hypnotherapist writer, co author of the Your Divorce Handbook. It’s that couch that can help people. But I help people with the self esteem, confidence, helping the children all the sort of emotional backstory on the stripe that links in with getting people to help you through the emotional stuff if you like.
Tamsin Caine 3:46
Absolutely and a grand job you do of that! Susan is also our most listened to guest on the Smart Divorce podcast Still, she’s up there at number one. So no, got big competition going on now. So this topic, on what what can I spend what am I allowed to spend? Susan, you must come across this this question a lot as well about, you know, if you’re in a relationship and the relationships ended, what are you able to spend? How can you use the kind of couple money? Is it something that you come across as well?
Susan Leigh 4:26
I think before that I’ve come up with what those money means to you. I think mentors people are going through during the relationship. Money can be used in a lot of different ways. So I know people in unhappy relationships stop England. Really, it’s almost like a vengeful saying Are they feeling unhappy or they really aren’t essential? No. have a brand new pair of shoes every week or joining expensive golf clubs and having lessons two or three times a week and all these things absolutely must have and stop to the misery that they’ve been in. So that can become a bit of a pre pandemic, we are shopping, coffees two, three times a week meeting friends for lunch, this pandemic, one of those things, not as do feel with a divorce, or going through, it’s in the initial stages of a power trip, I’m going to spend money on him or her. And afterwards, we kind of readjust a little bit. So to some extent has to be taken into account, as we are approaching the end of our relationship and revisit who I am. Let me revisit what my priorities are. What matters to me, why do I want to go from here? I want to work at St. John’s do I want to do? Whatever? You know, I think a lot of those things about where money is going from here next?
Tamsin Caine 6:21
Yeah, no, absolutely, absolutely agree with that. So let’s let’s start with one of our lawyers. Katie, from a, from a legal perspective, you know, and Susan is absolutely spot on. And I see this as well, you know, people do, do start spending money in a unusual way, you know, a way that’s perhaps not been the way that they have done through the relationship, you get people, you know, as Susan said, you know, going and shopping for a new pair of shoes every week to make themselves feel better. Now, do we deal with that in in a divorce situation? Is that? Is that something that that we should be concerned about? How does the law view that kind of on expected spending? I guess?
Katherine Harding 7:10
Yeah. So I think the first thing to say is that when you separate, what you should try and do is just maintain the financial status quo. So nobody should really be spending sparsely, any more or any less really than they have been throughout the marriage. That said, I appreciate that parties are going to have probably increased expenses generally, because they’re going to take legal advice. And they’re going to be spending money on lawyers. Perhaps they’re now living in two homes, if they can’t live together under the same roof anymore, and that inevitably has additional costs of it. But broadly speaking, generally, they should try and keep expenditure, as it was. I think a court will cottoned on very quickly to a party who suddenly start spending very frivolously for no apparent reason. And it might be that they’re buying because it makes them feel a bit better to go and buy a new pair of shoes every week. But it also might be that they’re trying to dissipate assets. And if they’re trying to do that, then the court will take a very dim view of that. And there are various ways in which the court might deal with that going forward. If you were in proceedings, you know, some things are quite draconian. And it will also depend on the size of the assets in question. So there are things like freezing injunctions that you can apply for whereby assets are frozen, so that the other party can’t dissipate them. That’s quite a draconian measure. But it does happen sometimes, particularly in the very high value cases. There are arguments that can be run, called add back, say where a party is, I think the phrase is wanting and recklessly dissipating funds. So if they were going out and buying a Ferrari, they’re suddenly going, Oh, really luxurious holidays, they were spending all their money on drugs and drink and all those kinds of things, causing their marital assets to deplete significantly. Then, the other party can ask the court to essentially add back the amount that they spent into the marital marital pot as if it had never been spent. So there are there are various things that you know, the court will cottoned on very quickly to the fact that someone is just dissipating funds without you know, for no for no good reason.
Tamsin Caine 9:45
Okay. And I guess when we’re looking at at the kind of spending that you’ve just talked about, that’s kind of outside of of normal lifestyle. I mean, Assuming Sarah, that, that a normal family holiday, such like that they’ve taken for the past. I was gonna say the past five years, but I guess there’s a couple of years in the past five years, nobody was going anywhere where they because of because of the COVID situation. But if they, if there’s kind of the history of, you know, a holiday in the Maldives and a skiing holiday in the winter, every year, is that still considered as acceptable spending.
Sarah Birdsey 10:28
And it’s going to depend as always on the situation. And I think, as long as it’s, you know, reasonable. And obviously, the idea is that you would try to maintain the status quo and keep things amicable as well. So if, if one party thought, well, actually, you know, we have, we usually have a summer holiday, the children need to break as much as we do. And you try and agree that with the sides, you know, that this is what we’re going to do, we’re going to spend these buttons, and it depends, as well on whether you’re talking about spending, you know, the joint money, or whether it’s a situation where both parties, you know, have similar amounts of savings, both parties that earn similar amounts and can pay for that holiday from their own funds, well, then that’s obviously much less of an issue. And where you’re looking at joint funds, and we, you know, can we afford this holiday, of course, not going to criticise, you know, if it’s, if it’s sensible and reasonable, really, it’s about sort of judging that fairness. And, you know, as Katie said, if it’s reckless spending, and it’s clearly done to try to dissipate the funds, well, then that seemed very differently by the courts. You know, they did look at that as being potentially conduct. And, you know, they would take steps to remedy that, where they and try and add those funds back in with a, you know, a reasonable, sensible holiday with the children, you know, is quite different just sort of going out and buying something lavish just for yourself, especially if, you know, clearly the intentions behind that are to dissipate funds or, or try to cause difficulties, you know, in terms of the law.
Susan Leigh 12:06
What about if you… I mean, we always seem to talk about people with children. And just thinking that if you’re a person without children, and you’re absolutely depressed, and low and flat and feeling completely in a bad place, a holiday? I mean, what about, you know, having a holiday lapse or a holiday with the girls or a holiday with your parents or whatever? Or a solo holiday? What about that? Because that would be considered the remit?
Sarah Birdsey 12:36
Yeah, I would say that it’s the same principle and say, I’m sure Susan, you would say, you know, if ever you need a holiday for the then is the time, you know, for your own well being and mental health. And so again, if it’s something that you usually would do, as you know, if it’s not an extravagant expenditure, and you can afford it on the finances, then there shouldn’t be, you know, an issue in terms of, of going on whole day, if that’s what you need to do. And again, just as long as it’s reasonable, where they say, if, if usually, your holidays are to Spain, and Portugal, and suddenly, you say, well, actually, we’re getting divorced, and I’m going to the Maldives for two weeks, you know, that that’s quite a change from the ordinary. You know, and I think everything, when you separated, and you’re looking at the finances, everything’s gonna have a critical eye casst over it, you know, in terms of when you come to deal with disclosure, you know, you provide a lot of your bank statements, it’s usually 12 months worth. And so really everything is gonna have a critical eye cast over it at some point. So I suppose you just have to bear that in mind when you are making those decisions, really.
Tamsin Caine 13:46
Yeah, it’s it’s tricky, isn’t it? Do the deal with the thought the audio the point that clients often make, to me it is about engaging with professionals and, and I think it it feels in the divorce arena as though engaging the solicitors should be fine, because that will be expected. But perhaps working with somebody like Susan to support your emotional well being which as we know, is absolutely vital so that people can make good decisions in divorce, or working with somebody like myself, to get financial planning advice. Those seem to be constant sort of thought I’ve certainly in the minds of clients is if they’re excessive expenditures, over and above the legal advice. Katie, I wondered what your thoughts were on that.
Katherine Harding 14:39
Again, I mean, I’m probably going to say that there’s a lot in this specific case, but broadly speaking, if that is something that the client feels that they need for their own mental health, their own know, own well being or just for their own financial health, you know, in terms of how How to manage their money. For example, I don’t think that they would be criticised by that, you know, they certainly wouldn’t be by the court, in my view, the other side might get a bit heated about it. And, you know, they say what they like, but if the client feels like they need that, and it’s assisting them, and it’s helping them, then they certainly shouldn’t, you know, it’s no different to the hat. You know, if you need to go and see a medical doctor, and you pay to go privately, because the NHS waiting list is eight months long. If you need, you need that you’re healthy and you need it. And you do and you spend you spend the money, don’t you? If you can afford it? I think it really comes down to affordability as well. You know, what’s actually, you know, depends on your finances. But I don’t think clients should be too worried about being criticised of that.
Tamsin Caine 15:54
Okay, that’s, that is, that’s good to hear. Before we started recording, and I won’t regale the entire tale of this, but we were talking with Susan about about clients who were there’s a very big disparity in, in finances. And that’s something that you’ve, you’ve seen with your clients where one person’s got a larger amount of access to money than than the other? What’s your experience with that?
Susan Leigh 16:22
I think, well, it’s the only potential to isn’t it, it’s, it’s, it’s when they if somebody’s a company director or the going through loss, and there is so much to be understand home rooms, or really needed to local, absolutely been in a controlling relationship by their partner, don’t bother working out take care of you. And then it has become potentially an abusive relationship is a negotiation with the, with the lawyers really where they have to take into account, I mean, somebody in that situation is very much relying on a lawyer to help them navigate away. And sometimes it means bringing in expensive forensic accountants, these offshore and hidden assets that people have, but it can be, can be a very daunting thing. And actually, going back to what you were talking about a minute ago, lawyers recommended their client see a therapist, or a financial planner, simply to facilitate the transition through the divorce. Sometimes, if you have a client to look at this with lawyers say, you know, this client is coming to see me and every week they’re spending their entire session with me in tears, regurgitating going through on a loop, what’s actually been going on in their marriage. So the wasting appointment, so some be viable and feasible and reasonable to actually send somebody to see a therapist or a financial planner to actually help them with the information with the stress better, and less impact on the health so the whole thing can move along a little bit better, too.
Tamsin Caine 18:17
Yeah, actually, that’s absolutely spot on, isn’t it. And we’ve talked about it a number of times on in this series at the podcast about work about having a diverse team and, you know, using the experts for the the expertise they have and you know, paying hundreds of pounds per hour to speak to a solicitor and sit there in tears with a box of tissues is not the best way of, of spending their time or your time and you would be far better off with somebody who’s able to help you through that emotional journey, wouldn’t you? So think I think that’s really important to recognise. And it important to see that just because you’re getting another professional involved doesn’t necessarily mean the expenditure overall increases, you’re just using the right people for the right jobs, aren’t you? I think that’s the thing that’s really important. In the, in this situation, why we’ve got this sort of financial power, imbalance and salary. What, what is the position where, where one person has, let’s say that we’ve got somebody who hasn’t perhaps work, perhaps they have been in a controlling relationship where they haven’t worked, they haven’t got their own money, they’ve had access to a joint account, but that joint accounts been cleared out by the other spouse, and, you know, they’re really struggling and they have they have no money that they can spend on you know, let’s let’s look at legal advice, just as is the very starting point. What what options do they have?
Sarah Birdsey 19:48
So they do have various options in that situation, but it can be really daunting, you know, as you’ve said, and and I think it’s common that there’s there’s often one party who might manage the finances, and more. And so the other party might not have a lot of insight into what the outgoings are or what savings they have. And but there are a lot of cases where it’s a control issue as well. But you’re saying and you know, it’s one party has all of the money and they’re not going to give the other party any at all. And in that situation, yeah, obviously, the first step is they need some legal advice. And there’s various options that legal aid is very minimal these days, but where there’s domestic abuse, it might be that someone’s eligible for legal aid. And it’s not that widespread anymore at all. But the other options are, there’s litigation loans, and there are some solicitors who will act on a says Choose agreement. So that’s where the solicitor agrees to wait until the end of the matter until there’s a settlement. So it’s only going to apply whether there’s a family home, or, yeah, there is money there that the client is going to receive. And this list is going agree to wait until the end of the matter, so that the client isn’t having to worry about, you know, paying upfront or having money available, you know, for that first meeting. And so that’s, that’s quite a useful way of getting some legal advice. There are some services that will offer, you know, maybe payment plans as well, in terms of, you know, a monthly payment while the case is progressing. And there’s also legal services order, which is where if one party’s got a lot of the money and high income, they can apply for that participate, their legal costs as well. And they’re not necessarily easy to get those types of orders, because you have to show that you, those other options aren’t available, you know, you’ve exhausted all those other options first. So, but say there are various options in terms of getting that legal advice in place, some sisters will offer a free consultation, so you can assess all of those options. And then you can look at right, okay, how can we move forward? Which might be another question, but you can then look at things like spousal maintenance, you know, and getting some some income there so that the client can at least manage the day to day while we then look at the more longer term finances really,
Tamsin Caine 22:20
It is, it’s really tricky, isn’t it? Because the options don’t, it feels to me as though they’re their legal services or the should be the should be like the best thing that they that clients should be able to go for, like, this is, you know, in divorce, it’s considered as as marital money, all the money’s considered as marital money. And yet, we can have a position where actually, one party potentially has to borrow on a litigation loan if it’s available to them, rather than using the marital money to, to pay for their legal costs, whereas the other person can go and engage the best solicitor they can possibly get the hands on and senior barristers and so on, it feels like there’s a there’s no unfairness Am I Am I completely misunderstanding this, Katie?
Katherine Harding 23:12
I don’t think you’re completely misunderstanding it, I think, where you’ve got a very one party who’s the financially stronger party and quite considerably certain there’s a huge imbalance in financial. The likelihood is presuming you don’t have any assets in your own name to secure a litigation lien against us that you’re not going to qualify for litigation load anyway. Which would increase your likelihood of you having a successful Legal Services payment order made so that the other party pays your legal things. I think also, even if you do have a litigation loan, again, when you’re looking at the longer term financial settlement, that loan is going to be taken into account in any final agreement, because it has to be repaid from somewhere. So you’re going to have to end up with enough capital and and income to not only meet your own needs going forwards, but also to discharge that that loan so that it’s not hanging over you indefinitely so ultimately, it’s still it’s still all coming out of the same pot at the end of the day. Because it’s got to be repaid it’s going to be repaid from the mathematics ultimately
Susan Leigh 24:28
Has this no fault divorce though reduced a lot of the acrimony in in divorces are you finding that yet that because it’s supposed to be a smoother easier no blame no recrimination issue from now on. Have you found a difference in that?
Katherine Harding 24:45
I personally haven’t noticed a huge difference but I’ve only a lot of my cases sort of started sometime before the new no fault divorce came in. So then you have to have Couple of naval divorces. But I think that, um, that’s just the divorce element itself, you know, physically legally becoming divorced, that’s not the finances and that sort of things that overlap, but are sort of distinct tracks from one another. And I think, yes, okay reduces the blame elements of the divorce. But that can have its pros and cons, because some people find that very therapeutic to actually set out actually, you know, he or she have done all these things. And this is why I want to get divorced because they feel like they’re being heard. They don’t have that outlet anymore. But I don’t. Personally, I haven’t seen any impact on the sort of alchemy within the sort of financial proceedings or the or the children proceedings for that matter. But I did maybe flowers, how did you know?
Sarah Birdsey 25:58
Yeah, I mean, with the divorce, it’s made the process a lot more straightforward. And there are a lot more people who are wanting to do it on a joint basis and deal with the divorce, not amicably, so that started, but I suppose that first step seems much more straightforward, and there’s a lot less heat in that. But in terms of the finances, yeah, there’s still that element of people still want to voice their, you know, grievances, and they still wants to put blame in and, you know, there’s a very small section on the for me about conduct and clients still want to fill that in, you know, and we have to sort of guide them through that as to you know, what, what is going to be appropriate and what’s not. So, yeah, I haven’t, sadly, haven’t seen a huge change, really, in terms of dealing with the finances, within no fault divorce, but it’s definitely helped in terms of divorce and starting things off on that better footing, really.
Tamsin Caine 26:54
I wonder if, as family solicitors, you’re perhaps not so much seeing the people who are managing things more amicably. Perhaps they’re using a different route for sorting out their financial arrangements. Maybe it is more of the people who who need to have a greater argument about the finances no struggling more to figure out their finances who perhaps sit in front of you. So it maybe it’s that we don’t see it so much in the work that we do. I don’t know. I mean, I’m hoping that’s the case.
Katherine Harding 27:35
I do you see is when there is going back to the couple of work, where there’s a big financial imbalance. I quite often see. It’s not a very nice phrase, but I don’t I don’t mean it in a bad way. Because the financially weaker party will will come and speak to us then say, my partner’s put this offer on the table. And I want to know if it’s fair, get that quite a lot. And so those cases are not particularly, you know, there’s not a lot of contention there necessarily. They just want to know, if it’s fair. So I’ve started to see a little bit more of that. And I don’t know if that arises out of the water, if that just happens to be the clients that have come through the door lately. We’ve seen a little bit bit more of that, I suppose.
Sarah Birdsey 28:26
But then most of the time when they are representatives with the agreement, and most of the time, it’s not fair.
Tamsin Caine 28:34
That’s why That’s why they’ve been presented with an agreement without any any any of the disclosure. You mentioned Legal Aid before and, and I have had a couple of people contact me, obviously I’m not a solicitor, but people contact me for all sorts of strange things. I’ve had a couple of people contact me asking about legal aid and finding a legal aid solicitor, is there. Is there a specific route to go down? Are there still people practising Legal Aid? Because I know it is, is, you know, in few and far between, and there’s only in cases of domestic abuse. But in those cases, it really is important that those people are represented. Are there Legal Aid solicitors that they can find, and how did they go about it?
Sarah Birdsey 29:23
And yes, there are legal aids, this is there’s not many. So I know, you know, sort of, in our local area, I only know of a handful of Legal Aid solicitors, one of which I’ve tried to refer a case to recently and narrow capacity and not taking on any more cases. And you know, which obviously shows, you know, the level of need. Yeah, there is a legal aid calculator online. It’s on a government website, which is quite useful. So that takes you through the process to say, Well, have you met the criteria in terms of domestic abuse? If so, do you meet the criteria in terms of The means tested eligibility. So that’s useful for people to see if they are eligible for legal aid. And I suppose, you know, post COVID, everything is a lot more online focused. So you don’t necessarily need a solicitor that’s on your doorstep. So you can look at, you know, a wider range in terms of looking for a legalised system. But so they are sort of few and far between really, which is a problem.
Tamsin Caine 30:27
Yeah, absolutely. Is there a website where you can find, I don’t know.
Katherine Harding 30:34
Like, when you do the calculator, Legal Aid calculator, and pretty sure at the end of that investment, there’s a bit where you can search for a legal aid. But I don’t work in that world, and we haven’t done for a long time. So I’m not sure.
Tamsin Caine 30:58
Okay, fantastic. Well, we’ll find that legal aid calculator, and we’ll pop it in the show notes. Because I think that’s, you know, if you’ve been through a situation where you’ve you have been subjected to domestic abuse, and you’ve, you know, you’ve finally, set yourself free from the from the, from that experience and that relationship, you know, you need, you need to be getting the best, the best possible help. What I’ve, I’ve another question around around kind of professional fees. So I was reading on Twitter, because that’s the source of much of my information on divorce cases, and about, about cases where it was one of our barrister friends who, who posted about this, but it was the a judgement that had been made on a case which, you know, it was it was a I guess it wasn’t a particularly high value, although, you know, I know, I’m sure there will be people listening, feeling that this is, this is very high value, but it was a couple of million pound assets in total. And there were the fees that had been spent on professionals dealing with the case it had had been to the extent that the judge had commented on it. What, what is that that we can that we can do to because sometimes, if you’re, if you’re wanting to settle things amicably and come to a resolution, but wanting it to be fair, and near the party is just not playing ball at all, it could be quite easy to mount up quite significant fees, couldn’t it?
Susan Leigh 32:40
Would you not suggest that they have a look at our book, our divorce handbook, it’s what you do next to the clouds, it’s an awful lot of information. People may initially be going to see a lawyer or whoever about asking lots of questions, taking a question or two. And paying for that when they put up £12.99 for our book then they’ll have an awful lot of information about what forms you need to fill in. And I’ve got the various steps, so about how to move forward. And I think this, this group wrote that book was so that people would be better equipped, knowledge wise, and you could actually probably reduced one or two of your initial sessions, and certainly some of the initial confusion. I have in that information around your divorce handbook. It’s what you do next. It’s an amazing book. And I’ve been very impressed by it. And what’s actually given away in January information is completely up to date. But it’s very valuable. To have handy.
Tamsin Caine 33:42
Yeah, absolutely. No, it absolutely is a good resource. And can definitely can definitely reduce some of the fees. I guess I’m thinking of the person of if you’re on the other side to somebody who’s who is being, you know, sensible getting all the information together, not spending a fortune on legal fees, and you’re battling against somebody who, who perhaps isn’t in that realm, who’s you know, just wants to fight once their day in court, you know, doesn’t want to play fair doesn’t want to play ball. We don’t win can end up with these costs snowballing. Is that Is there anything that can that can be done about it? Because I know, as I say, you know, this judgement that we’re there, certainly the judge commented that the proportion of fees compared with the value of the overall assets was, you know, out of kilter. Is there anything that can be done? Yeah. Dead silence.
Katherine Harding 34:40
Ones, I’m being totally unreasonable. You know, they’re not complying with court deadlines. For example. You can ask that they pay your car and try and get across the border from the court against them. So essentially, you are reimbursed or you’re the way stated costs are supposed to be incurred. Similarly, you incur the fee of a barrister, for example, and suddenly they decide that actually they are going to engage in negotiations, and they’re not going to go to the hearing anymore, for example, but you’ve already heard the barristers feel, you can try and get them to, again, reimburse you for that fee. I suppose if, you know, they could also look to both parties are willing to to mediate, to see if they can make any progress that way, which would reduce costs quite a bit. Because if they can get themselves into a position where perhaps they, you know, they don’t have to agree everything, but if they’ve narrowed the issues, and then just see a lawyer, or have their lawyers in the background, that’s also quite another good way of trying to reduce costs as well. And also, it sort of takes the heat out of things a bit as well, when someone’s being, you know, if you’ve got one person being very, very difficult, it’s quite, it’s quite helpful to have an independent third party there. Rather than opposing lawyers, which can sometimes just, you know, even if the lawyers are being constructive, and you know, nice, nice to one another. People just sometimes don’t like, you know, opposing parties, trying to convince them to do something they don’t necessarily want to do. But if it’s an independent third party that they’re both invested in being that can be quite helpful
Tamsin Caine 36:33
Anything to add there, Sarah?
Sarah Birdsey 36:35
Yeah, I mean, mediation is absolutely, you know, a great way to try and avoid this legal costs. But again, it requires cooperation of both sides, which isn’t always feasible. But you say if there’s somebody particularly unreasonable, the courts have been quite proactive in terms of cross orders, if, if a party isn’t willing to negotiate, either you can make open offers, which sets out you know, your reasonable proposal, and essentially say, Well, look, if you’re not going to accept this offer, well, I will draw this to the Court’s attention, you know, as a final hearing, and you can ask for a cost order at that stage difficulty, as most cases don’t get to that final hearing stage where a judge would make a costs order, but quite often, you do end up settling at some point, you know, during those proceedings, but it can be used as you know, as a lever to try and negotiate and say, courts can make those costs orders against the other side to sort of penalise them a bit like the civil procedure rules. You know, if they’ve been unreasonable and not accepting offers or making offersI
Katherine Harding 37:38
f you’ve got a particularly difficult person on the other side, sometimes all you can do is all you can do with your bid. Or you can do with the court orders, you can turn up to the hearings and keep doing your bid. And if you know, if they want to back up legal costs, then unfortunately, so be it. And when you have to sort of deal with that, at the end of it. Because, you know, we just talk in these podcasts assuming that we’re dealing with real people on both sides, and that that’s the case. Actually, often there is one party who is a bit more difficult than the other and yeah, sometimes I think you can all you can do with your bits, and make sure you’ve done your bit properly. And, and followed the process and the procedure.
Tamsin Caine 38:28
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s good advice. Coming to the end of our time, again, this these podcasts, absolutely fly. For me. Any final words of advice or on on spending, when you’re going through divorce, Katie let’s start with you.
Katherine Harding 38:48
Um, I would probably go back to what you said at the very beginning, maintain the financial status quo as far as possible. And in the first instance, if things are amicable enough, try and reach an agreement about the finances in the interim, before you’re finally divorced, and in the long term. Yeah, I think they would be my mind me today.
Tamsin Caine 39:16
Sarah, anything anything to add?
Sarah Birdsey 39:18
I would say that, you know, as we’ve talked about, it’s important to get advice, you know, at an early stage, and your book is obviously a brilliant resource in that regard. And, yeah, similar to Katie, you know, look at the short term position, try and agree a way forward in the short term, while you then sort of manage the more longer term, financial outcome, really, I think there’s always a two step process. And so it’s managing the short term, you know, how do we, how do we pay the bills? Who’s going to pay for what, you know, how do we manage this situation? And then we can look at the more long term, okay, where are we going to both live? How are we going to move forward with our lives and try and sort of take a step at a time really.
Tamsin Caine 40:01
Fantastic, great advice. And, Susan, I know you’ll be there for the people who, who have got a sudden shoe habit during divorce to help help them emotionally through that. But have you got anything to add?
Susan Leigh 40:14
Yeah, I think it’s about taking the time for you tried water if you like. So don’t be rushed into things. So initially, it might be a good idea not to sell the family home, or rush out and buy a new place or decide you can move to Devon or something or whatever it might be from the north of England. Taking time to tread water, maybe do a House share, maybe go live with family, don’t feel under pressure, listen to your friends advice, but you don’t necessarily have to follow it. You know, allow people to be supportive of you. And engage in that and allow yourself to be a time of absolute turmoil, and absolutely dreadful time, particularly for children involved. They need to be security safe, but either way, use it as a time to start thinking, Who am I I’m reinventing myself, this is a next stage next phase of my life. And I want to continue in the same job that I had yesterday be pressured to earn money. What do I want to do? Let me use this time to maybe read. Think about doing something with time to decide what you want to buy it like redundancy. And the loads of people who’ve looked back on being made redundant time it was devastating. But afterwards, I say, the best thing that ever happened to me, because it gave me the push that I needed to move from a happy situation and reinvent myself into doing something more more more suitable for me now at this stage in my life. And I think most can be similar in the sense that you take the time to be rushed into doing things just to make a decision. And then start with thinking where you would like to go from here because money is not just about income. Money is about the freedom it brings you the choices that offers, you know, the lifestyle that you can have the consequent.
Tamsin Caine 42:10
Absolutely that’s such good advice not being not being rushed into things not being pushed into things is certainly, you know, you can certainly feel like that and I think you make better decisions if you take some time to think about what you really want. So that’s excellent advice. Thank you ladies as always fantastic to have you all join us today. I hope you enjoyed our discussion today and we will be back with you again soon.
I hope you enjoyed the episode of the Smart Divorce podcast. If you would like to get in touch please have a look in the show notes for our details or go onto the website www.smartdivorce.co.uk. Also if you are listening on Apple podcasts or on Spotify and you wouldn’t mind leaving us a lovely five star review. That would be fantastic. I know that lots of our listeners are finding this is incredibly helpful in their journey through separation divorce and dissolving a civil partnership. Also, if you would like some further support, we do have Facebook group now. It’s called ‘Separation divorce and dissolution UK.’ Please do go on to Facebook, search up the group and we’d be delighted to have you join us. The one thing I would say is do please answer their membership questions. Okay, have a great day and take care!