Often where separation occurs it can be challenging to come to an agreement that suits both parties, particularly where a relationship has been a long one, or where there has been significant imbalance in income between parties through the duration of the relationship.
However with the right legal support, it is possible. At Watson Ramsbottom, our team has vast experience in dealing with individuals seeking or facing a divorce.
Our advisors are skilled negotiators and ensure that you get the best deal possible with the minimum of animosity. Whilst we aren’t afraid to fight your case in court wherever necessary, mediation is almost always recommended and can lead to positive outcomes that work for all parties.
In one such example, Senior Associate Solicitor Stuart Barton recently supported a client through complex divorce proceedings, where a divided family and a disparity of income between the parties made negotiating challenging. With Stuart’s assistance, the client was able to reach an agreement that worked for both parties.
Here’s how the case unfolded…
Unfortunately, a rift had occurred within the family with one of the couple’s adult children siding with the husband, whilst the other sided with the wife.
The husband had given extensive financial support to both of his children during the marriage. He felt that the child living with his wife had manipulated/deceived him and wasted the money he had received over many years. The wife had also taken around £50,000 from the parties’ joint bank account after commencing divorce proceedings. The husband believed that his estranged child was controlling his wife in taking that step. He was worried that her health was not the best and her life expectancy might be limited.
The parties had property assets of just over £2m between them, alongside modest savings.
The former family home was owned in his sole name and valued at around £1.6m with the wife having a smaller property owned in her name of around £475,000.
There was also a large disparity in their incomes and pension provision. As the husband had been the main breadwinner during the marriage, his pension assets were valued at around £418,000 and gave him an income of around £3000 per month. The wife’s pensions were valued at around £114,000 and gave her an income of £1170 per month.
The husband agreed to give the wife maintenance during the divorce to ensure that she could meet her income needs but wanted to avoid her obtaining a share of his pension assets by way of a pension sharing order. His concern was that if his wife obtained such an order, his income would reduce significantly but if his wife was to pass away shortly after such an order was implemented, he would have no means of trying to recover the share of his pension transferred to his wife. The wife’s concern was that if she relied on the husband simply paying her maintenance after the divorce was concluded, his death would lead to that maintenance ending.
The parties obtained an actuarial report so they could each understand the impact of a pension sharing order in this case. It was accepted by both that because of the very long duration of their marriage, an equal division of the assets and incomes was fair.
The parties therefore agreed an unusual method of settlement:
- The husband paid his wife a lump sum raised by way of a mortgage on the family home;
- He agreed to pay his wife maintenance until either she died/remarried or he died;
- He also agreed that if he was to die before his wife (and as long as she had not remarried at the time of his death), she would receive a further lump sum from his estate.
The above outcome allowed the husband to retain his pension and met the wife’s concerns over her losing maintenance in the event of the husband’s death before her own.
“The above shows that for separating/divorcing couples of an advanced age, resolving financial matters often requires creative thinking as well as a desire to compromise”
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If you are separating, a number of issues may arise on which sound legal advice is essential. We can talk you through alternative dispute resolution options, to help mitigate the need for expensive and drawn-out court proceedings.