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HMG Law Consultant Family Solicitor Andy Nellist gives his Top 20 Tips for Divorce

Updated: Apr 15

  1. Do get advice from a family specialist before you do anything. There’s a lot you really need to know before you take the first steps. Making those early decisions without understanding your options could cost you a lot of unnecessary time, effort and money.

  2. Do take steps to secure the jurisdiction of the court of England and Wales if it is in your best interests to do so. Delaying and allowing your estranged spouse to secure jurisdiction elsewhere could be very expensive.

  3. Do take steps to protect matrimonial assets if necessary. It is usually easier to protect assets than it is to recover them. This may be as simple as a phone call to a bank or as complicated as getting a freezing injunction.

  4. Do secure your IT based personal information to the extent you think is necessary. There are a lot of things you can do such as changing all of your passwords, turning off sharing on your devices and getting new bank/credit card accounts.

  5. Do make sure you get tax advice before you separate. For example separating late in the tax year may limit your options for transferring rental properties without significantly affecting their yields.

  6. Do try to agree arrangements for the children and who is going to pay the household bills before one of you moves out. If you are the one leaving it’s a good idea to take your personal papers and any personal possessions that have sentimental value. Once the move has happened these things tend to become harder to sort out.

  7. Do consider trying mediation. If you find it impossible to be in the same room as your estranged spouse you can still have mediation with each of you in separate rooms. Even if mediation doesn’t lead to a settlement it is likely to be helpful in identifying the main issues between you and your estranged spouse.

  8. Do issue an application for court proceedings promptly if your estranged spouse will not agree a fair financial settlement and going to court becomes inevitable. Acting promptly tends ultimately to save time and money.

  9. Do get specialist advice straight away from employment and company lawyers in conjunction with your family lawyer if you run a business and your estranged spouse works for the business and/or has shares in it.

  10. Do avoid using social media to publish details of your personal life whilst you are getting divorced. Screenshots from social media are regularly used as evidence in family hearings. Family Court proceedings are also normally private and sharing details of them could land you in very hot water.

  11. Don’t speak to your children about the detail of the divorce and financial matters. The court frowns on such behaviour and it tends to cause nothing but upset to the whole family.

  12. Don’t attach any real weight to assertions made by your estranged spouse as to the law or what each of you are entitled to receive/retain. Typically when asked to get their lawyer to put those assertions in writing the result will be a rather telling silence.

  13. Do take time to think about what you now want to happen if you were to die. It’s not a nice thing to think about but it is a sensible time to update things such as your will and any death benefit nominations.

  14. Don’t change the financial status quo e.g. by buying an expensive car, renting an excessively large/luxurious property or giving away assets. The hidden cost of these types of transactions can be a much more expensive settlement.

  15. Do get an expert report on pension sharing so that you can understand the true value of all the pensions and how best to share them. Without a report it’s very easy to make very costly mistakes that result in reduced pension value and/or you giving away too much pension or receiving too little.

  16. Don’t expect the court to take the behaviour of your estranged spouse into account in any financial settlement. In the vast majority of cases the court will ignore the conduct of the parties.

  17. Don’t sign up to a bad deal just to save legal costs or to avoid court proceedings. If you agree to give away too much or to accept too little you may regret having done that deal for a very long time. Take your time and get it right.

  18. Don’t finalise your divorce until you have a sealed and fully effective financial order settling the matrimonial finances. If the divorce is finalised first and one of you dies before there is a fully effective financial order the financial consequences could be very serious.

  19. Don’t send out wedding invites for your next marriage before you have an effective financial order and decree absolute. Nothing seems to slow negotiations about a financial settlement more than your estranged spouse learning about the date of your next nuptials.

  20. Don’t forget to get a prenuptial agreement if you remarry. Hopefully you will never need it but it’s good to have one if things do go wrong.

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