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II recently wrote a FREE download brochure entitled Nine Reasons Why You Should Instruct a Solicitor to Handle Your Divorce (and the Pitfalls of a DIY Divorce). If you wish to read the whole brochure you can download this here. However, I thought that I would expand upon some of the issues raised in my brochure.
One very important reason why you should use a solicitor is to;
If you don’t know what you don’t know you can end up in a mess trying to sort out your Financial Settlement with your spouse. The divorce itself is not as complicated as dealing with your ﬁnances. It’s all of the other issues where you need expert help. How to value your home and pensions properly, how to interpret the other party’s documents properly, how to address the court, what is and isn’t important to a judge.
We have seen clients try to tackle court proceedings themselves when the other party has failed to provide all documents in a timely manner, leading to repeated delays and endless court appearances. Had we been involved in such cases, we would have been able to take control of the proceedings in order to speed up the process.
Consider Amelia and Ted. Amelia has always been employed, rather than self-employed. She takes home a set wage, sometimes receives overtime pay or even shares from her employer, she may even have travel expenses to claim. However, Amelia has never had to deal with purchases for business, company pensions, wages, VAT or National Insurance contributions.
Ted, on the other hand, runs a restaurant with his brother. They employ fourteen staff. Ted informs Amelia that whilst the restaurant has previously provided a good living for the family it is now struggling. This is a common theme whenever divorce is mentioned, judges call it divorceitis! A successful business that is about to fail, and therefore Amelia should just take what is offered and go on her merry way.
Imagine Amelia trying to get to grips with the accounts for this business herself. She may think that all she needs is the last three years of trading accounts and Ted’s personal annual returns to HMRC.
I have seen cases where a couple can be over £200,00 apart in their estimate as to the value of a business. I regularly walk past restaurants in Newcastle City Centre that were going out of business over twenty years ago because of a divorce! I’m running out of places to eat I’ve acted for so many clients seeking a share in their spouse’s family restaurant!
In this case, Amelia and Ted need to have the restaurant jointly valued. There will be stock and ﬁxtures and ﬁttings, which could be worth tens of thousands; it costs a fortune to ﬁt out a decent commercial kitchen. There may be cash in the bank, more importantly, the business will have a Goodwill value. That must be valued by an expert. A restaurant with a year-round strong footfall in a prime city centre location is going to be worth a fortune at the moment. There are agents scouring the country on behalf of chain restaurants looking for prime city centre sites.
Ted may inform Amelia that he can’t afford to pay her any money from his share of the restaurant. Left on her own Amelia may fall for this. However, there are many ways that this could be dealt with by way of negotiation between solicitors. If I were handling this case I would identify quickly the need for a joint valuation; I would negotiate a timescale and price with a forensic accountant, I would obtain and provide a list of all items that the accountant would require. I would determine any debts of the business or any tax or other money due back to the business. Is Ted owed money back from loans or investments to the business or proﬁt he hasn’t taken over the years? The restaurant could be the most valuable asset available to Amelia and Ted. More so than the matrimonial home or Amelia’s work pension.
Would you want your case to be settled quickly with the help of an Expert Family Law Solicitor. Or would you rather attend three or four hearings over the period of a year to eighteen months with no idea as to whether or not you are seeking the right settlement, whether you could do better and no idea as to when the process will end?
Author: Jacqueline Emmerson