Going through a divorce can be one of the messiest and most traumatic experiences of anybody’s life. But while not much can be done about the emotional scarring, there are things you can do to ease the pain and make things just a little easier. Belle About Town consulted divorce expert Sonia Limbada about what warring couples can do to ensure proceedings go smoothly and with as little stress as possible for everyone. This is what she told us…
1. Divorce Petition
Agree who will petition for divorce and what facts they will rely on, especially if you are alleging unreasonable behaviour. Deciding upon the contents of your statement could speed up the process considerably as your partner will have already consented to terms before it goes to court.
Discuss any arrangements for children at the earliest opportunity. Who will they live with? How much contact will the other parent have? How will you split holidays and special occasions?
3. Financial support
You will need to consider how you will both support yourselves during and after the divorce. Sit down and prepare a reasonable schedule of income and expenditure to work out what you both will require financially after separation.
You may need to consider applying for income support. Check your eligibility so you know where you stand. You will also need to discuss how you are going to split your income and whether any maintenance payments for your spouse should be made. The partner who keeps the children is entitled to child maintenance.
4. Family home
Who will live in the family home? Think carefully about this, especially if there are children involved. Give consideration to the partner who is moving out and agree on where they will live.
You should look at suitable accommodation to rent – it is affordable? Is it within close proximity to the family home to make contact with children practical? Is the area reasonable? Is it within commuting distance to their place of work? You will also need to factor in the cost of rent and other bills when working out each parties’ income and expenditure.
5. Mortgage on family home
Notify your mortgage lender of any changes in circumstances or any relevant developments. If you are transferring the house, will you be able to take your name off the mortgage and will your partner be able to afford the mortgage?
6. Council tax bill
If your spouse has left the family home, you can enquire with the council as to whether you qualify for a single person’s discount on your council tax.
7. Life insurance
You will probably want to change the beneficiaries on your Life Insurance / and other policies. Identify together what these policies are and how they need to be changed.
8. Joint bank accounts
Some couples can continue to run a joint account even when they decide to divorce. Set rules about how the accounts will be operated so that each party is clear on what they are entitled to. However, joint accounts can cause issues, so if you would rather close it, make sure that both of you have had the opportunity to manage any direct debit payments and standing orders.
Be reasonable. Do not force your partner to cancel payments that they need to continue and do not insist on continuing with memberships that you don’t really need. Make sure that the mortgage payments and utilities are dealt with appropriately. Before you cancel regular payments, discuss the matter with your partner and certify that there is adequate provision for the payments. Do not clear out the joint account funds without coming to an agreement.
9. Credit cards
If your spouse has a second card on your credit card account then you should talk to them before closing it. Think carefully about how reliant your spouse is with the credit card before you cancel it and notify them of your intentions. If you are the second card holder, make sure it is still active and find out if you can have a card under your own name.
10. Your assets
It is good practice to know the rough value of your family home and any other assets. Discuss these with each other and agree on how the assets will be valued. Collate valuations together and be open with each other at all times about your financial circumstances. Hiding financial assets exposes you both to risk, not just the partner who is in the dark.
- Sonia Limbada is a divorce expert at Divorce Negotiator and specialises in providing pragmatic advice to keep proceedings amicable for divorcing couples. Divorce Negotiator helps couples reach agreements together, avoiding the stress of court.