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The resolution of financial matters in divorce proceedings is incredibly important to all parties involved as this has a bearing on parties ultimately being able to move on and obtain what they are entitled to.
Since the lockdown in March 2020, many clients who are in the middle of divorce proceedings have been forced to rethink and reconsider their financial position due to Covid-19. This has been for various reasons and is entirely different depending on which stage of the process you are at, whether you have already reached a financial agreement with your ex-spouse, whether you are in the middle of negotiations to try and reach an agreement or whether you are involved in Court proceedings.
This is then further impacted by other factors affecting your personal financial situation including whether you are a business owner, employed, a director of a company, on furlough etc.
Firstly the central assets in the case need to be identified. This can include Properties, usually a family home, Savings, Pensions or a Business.
Most parties are concerned that the valuations of assets, whether they have been valued by an expert, or a value has been agreed between the parties are no longer representative of the current value. It is therefore a concern that there is a significant risk to both parties that cannot be accounted or mitigated for if a financial order, especially within Court proceedings, was made. In these instances, it needs to be assessed whether a matter can be dealt with fairly and logistically. If so, then the matters can proceed. Otherwise, a Court could be making a decision based on historical information which could later result in the parties being unable to fully comply with the Court Order and having to return to Court.
It is therefore vital that the parties obtain up to date figures for their pensions and properties etc. so that the Court is working with up to date figures. For example, the impact differs if you have a defined contribution pension scheme, public sector scheme or private sector scheme. There is also a difference if there is to be a pension share or if offsetting is involved. This will also assist in continuing settlement negotiations.
Some parties may wish to defer negotiating a financial settlement, however it is important to remember that Covid-19 and its impact on financial matters is a global concern and is likely to take a long time to recover and return to the same position as pre-Covid-19. In the meantime, new issues can also arise as individual’s employment and income positions can easily change. In order to try and defer negotiations, you need to ensure that you are able to afford to keep and maintain a stable interim financial position.
It is well known that the property market has been at a standstill for the past 8 weeks. It is hoped that this will slowly regain supply and demand and the response to the market will become clearer in the next few weeks, especially in relation to valuations.
Every client's situation, financial position, ideal outcome is different and different assets are involved. There can be various options available to you in relation to reaching a financial settlement and this is dependent on your own circumstances.