15:22 PM, 17th February 2015, About 6 years ago
Around 20% of my Consultancy clients come to me for advice about divorce. Perhaps unusually, every divorce case I have assisted clients with so far has been an amicable split. Maybe that is due to the fact that landlords are more worldly wise than to run up bills of £1,000’s over who takes custody of Tiddles the mild mannered moggy?
In almost every case I have recommended collaborative divorce for landlords. This is where each of your appoints a collaborative lawyer and the four of you sit in a room to draft a consent order for a Judge to consider. It is far less litigious and costly than the standard process which often involves lengthy and expensive written correspondence between lawyers.
It is often the case that one of the divorcing parties has a lot less knowledge of property, lettings and finance than the other. This creates doubt and suspicion when trying to reach an amicable settlement. For this reason many of my clients just want some impartial advice or what is fair and realistic in terms of a financial settlement and what to do going forwards in terms of dealing with properties and tenants they will be entirely responsible for. Unlike most professional advisers I don’t charge by the hour. I make myself available as often as my clients require for six months for a flat fee of £995. Very often we don’t need to meet as most things can be done by telephone and email. However, where required I also agree to meet my clients at my home in mid-Norfolk and provide lunch so that we can chat face to face. Many of my clients travel hundreds of miles for those meetings so I don’t charge them any extra as I believe that would be unfair given the fixed fee nature of how I operate.
Cynically, and rightfully so in my opinion, landlords I have worked with tend to agree to splitting assets well before they contact lawyers. In many cases where I have acted for landlords they have got as far as Decree Nisi before involving lawyers. However, it is VITAL wherever possible for any split of assets to be Court ordered before a divorce is finalised (Decree Absolute). Only today I spoke to a lady who was quite prepared to leave the finances in abeyance on the basis of an informal amicable settlement and an agreement to deal with matters such as death in a Will. This is incredibly dangerous because a new Will can be made a day later. People can and often will find a new Mr or Mrs Right and perhaps worse is when they decide to leave everything to a Charity.
I will give you a couple of examples of where the lack of a Court ordered financial settlement caused problems.
Example 1 – Mrs and Mrs X had been divorced for a few decades. Their agreement was that each would leave their estate to the other. Neither had remarried or had ever had children. However, Mr X had a change of heart before he died and left his entire estate (several millions) to a charity. Mrs X contested the Will and spent six figures fighting the Charity. She did get some money but nowhere near what she believed she was entitled to.
Example 2 – Mr & Mrs Y divorced amiably without having a clean break Court ordered. A few years later Mr Y’s business took off in a big way and was worth millions. Mrs Y mounted a legal battle which was very expensive to both sides. The end result was that Mrs Y got substantially more more than was ever originally intended. Their lawyers did very nicely too!
If you would like to have an initial chat with me free of charge please see my member profile for my contact details and/or read more about the Consultancy services I provide as well as testimonials from happy clients HERE
There are also several other discussion thread regarding divorce here at Property118 and I have contributed to most of them – summary details and links HERE.Show Book a Tax Planning Consultation
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