- Invest in a prenuptial agreement
It can't hurt to know what your intended's attitude towards money is before you get married. Arguments about money are after all cited as one of the major reasons for divorce.
A good prenuptial agreement will set out how the matrimonial assets should be divided on divorce thus minimising expensive legal wrangling after the event. It is essential that if you do enter into such an arrangement that you review it regularly to take account of changing circumstances such as the birth of children.
- Understand the family finances.
Make sure you are fully aware of the family assets - and the liabilities. Without that information, an unscrupulous spouse may try to hide assets and you risk being involved in a prolonged and expensive search for the truth. Or you may have an inflated idea of the assets available and spend legal fees chasing assets which just aren't there.
It is essential that each of you knows exactly what's in the pot and co-operates fully with the disclosure process. You will be asked to give all sorts of financial information including bank statements, wage slips, pensions and business valuations. It's really only after this information is complete that your lawyer can fully advise you and the process of negotiation can start.
- Consider getting help from a divorce counsellor
Experts can help you keep lines of communication open as well as help you deal with the effects of the breakup on the family. If you are able to remain amicable not only is it more likely you will salvage your friendship with your spouse after divorce – no bad thing if you have children together - but you will spend less of the family fortune on legal fees.
If your relationship breaks down so far that you can't discuss anything at all with each other that leaves your lawyers as the only line of communication between you and this can be expensive especially when you're using your lawyer to make complicated arrangements about who's seeing the children when
- Try Collaboration not Litigation
Don't be like the hapless Kavanaghs recently in the news – both practising lawyers they spent almost all their assets after lengthy and bitter litigation involving the finances and the children.
Collaborative lawyers agree with their clients not to go to Court and negotiations take place in a series of face to face meetings with each of you supported by your own lawyer throughout. Collaborative law is for you if you want to avoid the animosity that can be generated by court litigation, not to mention the costs. At Howes Percival our lawyers are specially trained in collaborative law.
- 5.Invest in a good Family Lawyer
A good family lawyer will encourage team work with you and with your spouse's solicitor to ensure your matter is managed proactively. They will consider throughout the benefit to you of any action against the costs of such actions – emotional as well as financial. Above all they will add value, negotiating practical and creative solutions.