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Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2851
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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I am heading separation and divorce. What should I do

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I am heading for a separation and divorce. What should I do first under UK law? We have 3 kids 16 and under and four properties in different places with different levels of debt.
Hi, thanks for your question.
If matters are amicable between you then you should make a referral to an independent mediator (you can find local mediators here: who can assist you and your ex-spouse to reach an agreement regarding the children and the finances. Once an agreement has been you can then pursue applications to court to ratify the agreements as a court order.
Please let me know if you have any further questions regarding this.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi, my question was what I should do first to secure my financial situation assuming things are not amicable. Thanks

If matters are not amicable you will still have to disclose all your assets and financial position, and all these need to be considered when reaching an agreement or a court making a decision - not doing so can lead to any orders made being reviewed after they are made.

Therefore the best thing to do is try to reach an amicable agreement where both your needs, ex-spouse's needs and children's needs are all met.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Honestly, I also read the FT. I know you cannot expect to hide assets, although certain assets are considered common and others are not (ie pension plans?)

I was looking for advice on things like bank accounts, names on properties and mortgages, etc. I thought that if you are a family lawyer then you must find in meeting with clients that there are a few key steps which most divorcing wives - especially those with no fixed employment income but all responsibility for household costs- should take to keep from being in a vulnerable position.

Perhaps my question is too open ended (do you actually practice family law and advise people in these situations?

Yes, I do practice and deal with these on a regular basis.
There are no common or uncommon assets - as part of a divorce all your assets are taken into consideration and the only way that you are able to attempt to "ring-fence" is if:
- an asset has been acquired prior to the marriage and has not been treated as a matrimonial asset - but even in those circumstances if the value of the asset has increased during the marriage then the increase would be considered,
- if a pension was accumulated prior to the marriage - the amount accumulated prior can be argued that should be out of the matrimonial asset poll to be considered
- or if there is inheritance which has not been used for the family.
During your negotiations, you should focus on the following, which is the criteria that the court will consider when either making an order or approving a consent order agreed by both of you:
1. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
2. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
3. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
4. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
5. Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
6. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
7. The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;
8. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Ok, that is much more helpful.

(The reason I am not clicking on "get extra help" is that I thought I had a subscription for unlimited questions, and this new feature is therefore confusing. If you have a lot more important and useful advice I will purchase it.)

Thanks in any event for taking my questions over the holidays.

I have just a couple more comments:

1. How about property purchased after the marriage with a pension plan I earned before the marriage?

2. Does the Court consider redress in the form of asset allocation for a wife who was a high earner through part of the marriage but legitimately had to take care of all of the educational needs and upbringing of 3 kids, each with learning issues (one adopted), and could therefore no longer work full time, and in doing so gave up 10 years of promotions, peak earnings and pension contributions? Especially as it can be documented that the husband refused to assist at all in this regard?



Not to worry.
1. If the property was purchased after the marriage, then this will be considered an asset of the marriage.
2. Yes, the court will consider that the wife made non-financial contributions to the family, which include giving up a career to care and bring up the children, when deciding what a fair split of the assets would be.
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