Fewer people than ever before are using a solicitor when their relationship ends. Is divorce without legal advice a savvy financial decision or one to be regretted 'until death us do part'?
There is plenty of useful procedural information freely available in the public domain and these days on line divorces can be obtained with a few clicks of the mouse. The end of a marriage or civil partnership is now a largely administrative matter which many people can and increasingly do choose to handle themselves.
Risk of financial loss
Upon divorce, however, complex claims can often arise for orders regarding capital, income and pension provision. In short, the more there is to lose, gain or protect, the greater the need for expert legal advice. The mainstay of a specialist family solicitor’s work is strategy, analysis and advice – very often with the aim of wealth protection. This is where a family law solicitor can add significantly more value than the cost of their fees, particularly when viewed over the medium to long term.
Where a matter involves complex and valuable assets, such as overseas property, business or farm ownership, substantial pension rights, share options, or trust assets, clients will benefit hugely from expert, independent legal advice. A good solicitor will identity the important issues at an early stage as well as advising about what other experts might need to be involved. These could include specialist tax planning advisors, or company lawyers, and frequently actuaries to report about pension sharing.
In cases where parties are on good terms and agree how even complex assets will be dealt with, documentation is still vital to make the deal legally binding. Written agreement between separating spouses is not sufficient and without a court order, the financial claims will remain open and unresolved for years- potentially until death or remarriage. A badly drafted court order, possibly containing errors or omissions could cause more problems than it solves so the involvement of an expert family law solicitor is key.
In most divorce scenarios, the financial position of one or both parties is likely to change considerably. Taking legal advice from a family lawyer, potentially combined with advice from an IFA or financial planner, enables people to take control of situations and to make better informed, life-changing decisions.
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