Divorce for the not so “rich and powerful” – what about Mr and Mrs Average?
A trio of recent articles in The Telegraph have prompted me to reflect on the fact that the Courts of England & Wales are considered the Divorce location of choice in the World, or at least the choice of one half of the couple upon whom the laws of this land are likely to look more favourably than the law of another country in the world.
(And, I also take this opportunity to implore journalists to realise that these are not “British Courts” as the articles suggest, because the Law and Courts in Scotland and North Ireland are technically separate and different from the law which applies in the Courts of England and Wales)
However, by far the majority of the couples I help through the divorce process (with financial issues included with that general term) are very much the average family with a house, mortgage and 2.4 children. So, what difference does the law of this land make to them?
Well, more often than not, the technicalities of what is and what is not “matrimonial property” which should then be subject to the “sharing principle” with the starting point of equality (ie. a 50 / 50 split of assets), have to concede to the fair distribution of the limited matrimonial assets to best meet the parties’ immediate needs to put a roofs over heads and pay the bills.
When the total wealth available to the family as a whole is often insufficient for both parties to achieve their personal wish lists for accommodation and a life of comfort apart from each other, what becomes even more important is sorting out the financial issues with minimum cost and legal wrangling. With the horror stories of legal costs escalating to eye watering amounts through protracted legal argument and court hearings, I’m continually telling my clients that whilst their problems need to be resolved properly with professional help, they are better off keeping as much of their money as possible rather than paying expensive lawyers.
2 options for a much more cost effective way of sorting out financial problems are the Collaborative Family Law process and Mediation. Either process both can be tailored to suit the aims of the couple and place them in control of the outcome. The alternative is for the couple to be drawn into the traditional and often much more costly court route which results in a total stranger (ie the Judge) making a decision about one of the most important events in their lives. It’s a no-brainer really.
My final thought for today is that whilst couples may balk at the cost of getting divorced (even when using the more cost efficient and couple friendly alternatives to going to court), I encourage any divorcing couple to think about how much they spent on getting married in the first place. Bringing a marriage to an end properly requires just as much time and thought (and often cost) as getting married in the first place.
Britain is divorce destination of choice for rich and powerful – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8853334/Britain-is-divorce-destination-of-choice-for-rich-and-powerful.html
Biggest divorce settlements in British courts – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8853273/Biggest-divorce-settlements-in-British-courts.html
Jetsetting millionaire couple to divorce in British courts – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8853272/Jetsetting-millionaire-couple-to-divorce-in-British-courts.html