Collaborative law is another option – in this instance, couples appoint their own lawyers but take part in four-way meetings which help reduce antagonism and encourage everyone to come to a workable ongoing arrangement.
London is known as the ‘divorce capital of the world’ and although it is likely the city will continue to lead in this field, it is expected that we will see more conciliatory options for couples.
So why should a financial adviser be minded as to what sort of divorce their client has?
Many reading this article will be all too familiar with the paperwork involved – the ‘form E’ for instance, which is the financial statement for a financial order. This gives the court all the details relating to an individual’s financial position.
But the role of financial advisers in a divorce process is imperative – much more than just a form-filling exercise, especially if the couple has significant assets cross-border.
Their assistance will include the disclosure process, structuring a settlement and important tax considerations.
They can provide invaluable help in putting together future budgets and for calculating capitalised maintenance. If a spouse is wealthy, the adviser will be relied on to provide clarity in the divorce process, in particular as to the scale of assets and how they can be realised.
However, for a financial adviser, divorce can be a stressful time.
Until the point of divorce they will often have advised the couple together. However, they can be put under pressure during litigation to be more partisan, which can make it difficult at the end of a divorce to maintain an ongoing professional relationship with both sides.
Therefore, if a financial adviser’s clients decide to use mediation or another conciliatory approach, this makes the whole process much easier, more transparent and ultimately cheaper for everyone involved.
There are not any rules stopping advisers working for both parties in a divorce (solicitors for example cannot do this) and this joint process can work very well – the adviser remains financially neutral and gives information (rather than advice) so both spouses can get to a practical position they are happy with.
From a financial adviser’s perspective, particularly those who, pre-separation, were advising a couple together, it fits very well being able to recommend a service to clients which will serve them both and enable them both to receive impartial advice.
Questions appear on the last page of this article.