It is said that Bishop Valentine was executed on 14 February 1750 years ago for continuing to marry adoring couples against the wishes of Roman Emperor Claudius who believed single men made better soldiers. But if surprising your spouse with one of the 36 million boxes of heart-shaped chocolates or 50 million red roses bought this Valentine’s Day is the last thing on your mind, then take courage, you are not alone. Indeed, far from it. The filing of divorce petitions leaps nearly 40% around Valentine’s Day compared to the previous six months. Whether this is the result of a delayed New Year’s resolution, even repeated resolutions or the stark realisation that your romance will never be rekindled, here are some practical tips that will serve you well if you decide to embark on the divorce process:
- Carefully select your lawyer.
Aggressive, bullying lawyer tactics can cause unnecessary conflict and increase costs. An experienced and empathetic lawyer will guide you through the process and not ‘up the ante’ unnecessarily. She will know when to fight your corner and when to compromise, ensuring you get the best settlement
- Be prepared to account for and value all of your matrimonial assets
This is a pre-requisite to assets being divided and thorough preparation is necessary. Gather documents verifying your assets and liabilities, including trusts interests and pensions. You may need to employ expert valuers for art collections, property portfolios and business interests.
- Consider whether any assets have been hidden
It is not unusual in a divorce for one spouse to conceal assets from the other. Some signs that your spouse may have hidden assets are that he/she has made large purchases without saying where the money has come from or asked you to sign papers without explaining what they were for. Also consider whether cryptocurrencies are an issue. A forensic accountant can be employed to assist.
- Consider the tax implications of any asset division
Beware the unexpected; some asset transfers may trigger a large capital gains tax bill, for example. This is a complex area and an expert can advise you on the most tax-efficient way to separate marital assets.
- Analyse any pre- or post-nuptial agreement
In the majority of cases, the terms of a pre- or post-nup will determine the outcome of the divorce regarding financial matters but it is important that you have it examined by a specialist lawyer at the outset, as this is not always so.
- Update your beneficiaries
Review the beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries on your insurance policies and pensions and update documents such as wills and lasting powers of attorney to ensure they reflect your new situation.
- Don’t use your lawyer as a therapist
Your lawyer will represent you and fight for your best interests. She may be compassionate and a good listener but complaining excessively about your ex is not the best use of her time. Consider employing the services of a counsellor to get you through the difficult stages.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.