The hidden costs of divorce – and how to avoid them

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Getting divorced inevitably involves some costs – both because of the need to split assets between you and your partner, and through legal fees. But there can be hidden costs too, which may not materialise until further down the line. There could even be financial implications years later, unless you arrange the ending of a marriage in the right way from the outset, with the advice of a good divorce solicitor.  Ipswich solicitors Barker Gotelee, takes a look at how some of these hidden costs might arise and how they can be minimised or avoided altogether.

As family solicitors serving clients across East Anglia, Barker Gotelee is able to provide expert guidance to people embarking on divorce.  Contact the team for more information on the services available.

Future claims

A divorce settlement which is incomplete in some way can mean that one or both parties to the marriage could make further claims against the other many years down the line. For instance, this can happen if pension pots or property ownership are not taken into account when arranging the split of assets.

This can arise from quickie online divorces which may not have properly assessed both parties’ assets and future income requirements. There is a risk that a court could later decide such a financial agreement is not fair and reasonable for the circumstances of the case, meaning it has to be negotiated all over again.

The best way to avoid this is to ensure a financial settlement is drawn up in a way to avoid it being thrown into doubt later. This requires input from an expert family solicitor, based locally in Suffolk, who can ensure the wording and terms of the settlement are designed to prevent future claims.

Drawn-out proceedings

The longer it takes to reach a settlement, the higher the legal fees will be and, in particular, costs can build up if court appearances are needed. Going into the courtroom not only means stress for all concerned, but can also add extra costs, if legal representation is required for each hearing there are also court fees to take into consideration

In addition, there may be other associated costs such as bills for travel, the need to take time off work, and perhaps extra childcare costs resulting from time spent on legal proceedings. For all these reasons, it pays to settle quickly, providing the settlement has been reached in a thorough way, and to stay out of court if possible.

Hidden assets

Some people who are divorcing may be tempted to keep some assets separate and avoid them being considered in the settlement. However, anyone attempting to hide assets, including property and bank accounts, runs a high risk that when they are discovered any settlement to date will be invalid.

As well as having to reassess the settlement, involving more time and money on all sides, there is the possibility of prosecution for the party who has tried to hide assets. This could result in damage to business and income, fines or even time in prison. Hiding assets in the modern world is becoming increasingly hard and courts are clamping down hard on attempts to do so, and on the use of legal loopholes to exclude assets from divorce settlements.

Long term stress

Divorce or family break-up is hard enough even if the whole process goes smoothly. Obstructing or delaying the process simply adds to the time it all takes, increasing not only legal costs, but also the distress caused. While it may not appear to be a financial cost, long-term stress can have significant financial impact going forward.

Stress and an ongoing sense of injustice can have a serious impact on health, which may then have knock-on effects on your ability to earn income and run a business. This means that, by seeking expert legal advice to help you reach a settlement, you will be protecting both your own health and that of your finances.

How you and your divorce solicitor can help minimise all these costs

Both solicitor and client have a role to play in helping to reach a settlement that is thorough and which minimises the possibility of future claims. This will allow you to move on and put this period of stress behind you.

If you are open from the start and give your family solicitor a full picture of your assets and requirements, it will be easier to draw up a settlement which will be acceptable to a court and may make a court appearance unnecessary. It will also help to create a resolution which both sides can accept, minimising any sense of injustice.

The best way forward is to find solicitors who will take a co-operative approach. This will help to ensure that the legal proceedings are not unnecessarily stressful, and direct and indirect costs are kept down. Family solicitors taking this type of approach can help to achieve a mediated settlement, including childcare arrangements where necessary.

Barker Gotelee emphasises the importance of collaboration and is able to arrange mediation services. As experienced divorce solicitors serving clients in Ipswich, Woodbridge, Aldeburgh and other areas of East Anglia, the team can guide you through all aspects of family law. Contact them for an initial discussion.

Amanda Crowe is a divorce solicitor at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.

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