Here are the golden rules of divorce
- Children first. If you are a parent with children, put their needs first. Ideally tell them together with your ex that you are separating. Offer them lots of reassurances that this isn’t their fault and they are loved by both parents. Make time for them.
- Divorce with dignity. No matter how hurt or angry you feel, treat your ex with respect. This is especially important if you have children who need to see their parents communicating civilly with each other.
- Time to grieve. Divorce is often likened to bereavement. Allow yourself time to come to terms with your loss. Not everyone process at the same rate. You may have moved on before your spouse has and you might become frustrated that they aren’t ‘on the same page’ as you are. Try and be patient and sensitive to their feelings.House in order.
- Organise your personal and financial documents. You will need to share this information with your solicitor. If you are methodical and organised, this will make the process easier and more cost effective.
- Talk. Share your feelings, whether it be to friends, a counsellor or legal adviser. Everyone needs support from someone at some point in their life. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Understand your rights. Whilst the possible costs of involving a lawyer may be a worry, having some initial advice at the start can be really helpful and may save time and money in the long run.
FM Family Law is offering free consultations this month to anyone wanting initial advice on their separation. Contact us for a meeting.
Why honesty about your finances is vital
The Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling in a divorce case in October last year. This highlighted the importance to be open and honest about your finances in divorce proceedings. The Judgment was in the joint cases of Sharland and Gohil, two couples who may have thought their divorce settlements were finalised some years ago.
Mrs. Sharland received a settlement of around 10.5 million on her divorce from her husband in 2012. This agreement was reached on the basis that Mr. Sharland’s interest in a company which he had founded and had a large shareholding was worth around £7 million, with the total company being worth in the region of £31-£47 million. During the initial case, Mr. Sharland told the court he had no plans to float the company.
Shortly after an agreement was reached between the parties Mrs. Sharland discovered that not only was the company likely to be worth significantly more than the figures Mr. Sharland suggested, but discussions were, in fact, taking place about floating the company.
Similarly, Mrs. Gohil, back in 2004, made it clear at the time she reached a financial agreement with her husband that she did not trust the evidence he produced about the value of his assets in Bangladesh. She accepted a very modest settlement but had it recorded on the court order that she did not accept her husband’s financial disclosure. Several years later, whilst on a trial for fraud and money laundering, it was found to be the case that he had significant assets which had not been disclosed in divorce proceedings.
Both wives applied to the court to have their financial settlements reconsidered on the basis that they, and the court, were deceived about the true extent of their husband’s wealth. They both suggested that a different financial settlement would have been reached had their husbands been honest in the information they supplied.
Mrs. Sharland and Mrs. Gohil had their initial applications rejected. Both appealed again to the Supreme Court. They won and both financial settlements will now be reconsidered by the courts.
To us, this is a clear message that the courts will not tolerate dishonesty. If you are not open and honest in the information you give your spouse and the court about your financial circumstances, you run the risk of further litigation many years after you think you have a final divorce settlement. Both husbands now face the possibility of having to pay their wives more money and incurring additional legal costs in the process.
If you want to discuss any issues regarding divorce and financial matters, including your duties to provide accurate financial information, and what you can do if you think someone isn’t, please contact us. We have offices in Cambridge and Norwich.