Divorce case study
Anne is 43 years old and over Christmas she became aware that her husband of 16 years Simon aged 39 was communicating with another woman.
They have two children aged 8 and 6. Anne works part time as a dentist earning £50,000 per year and Simon was a fireman but has recently taken retirement and has decided to become a freelance handyman. Anne was shocked to find the communication. She worried the house could not be afforded and felt she could no longer trust Simon as she did not really know him as the man she had known. Would he take advantage of her if she divorces him. He was secretive about his retirement and has not mentioned what package he received. He likes cars and recently bought an MX5 in red. He says he needs an expensive van for his new venture and she has seen web searches of a cosmetic surgeon. The house is in joint names, worth about £400000 with a mortgage balance of £170,000. She has savings and inestments worth £90,000 and a pension worth £350,000.
At her first meeting with her solicitor the following issues are addressed:-
- What is the effect of divorce?
- There is no financial settlement automatically in divorce and it may be some time before it settles.
- He can divorce her despite his own fault.
- He may be wasting a significant pension lump sum and an injunction to stop the spending may be worthwhile.
- His pension and her are now on a different footing but we agree further disclosure is needed before she need worry about being taken advantage of by him
- The needs of the children come first.
- Short term accommodation issues
- Options to settle out of court like negotiation meetings, mediation, arbitration and collaborative law.
- The objective of the court to achieve a fair outcome.
- Valuation of assets, disclosure, keeping a budget and initial communication methods with him.
- Cost estimates and options like fixed fees and loans or legal services orders
Following the meeting a letter was sent at a fixed fee and he instructed a solicitor. The letter requested clarification regards the pension lump sum and undertaking not to dispose as the assets of Anne were likely to make an injunction disproportionate. The solicitors agreed a route forward to negotiate. After voluntary disclosure a meeting took place and it was agreed that divorce was necessary, the house should be kept as a home for the children and Simon had a sufficient income not to require assistance from Anne. Child arrangements were agreed. After further opportunity for financial advice the case settled by consent order in divorce with Anne paying 45% of the equity in the house to Simon upon transfer of the house to her with a clean break between them.