Almost without exception every client I see is concerned to understand how the family finances will be dealt with on divorce - a large part of my time involved with a divorce is spent identifying the assets available for division.
It is critical to determine what assets exist in a marriage, their net value and sometimes the liabilities which may arise. It is not always as easy as it may seem - sometimes clients simply do not know what they have and others do not realise the things which are considered 'finances' which need to be considered.
Some assets are 'obvious' - properties, savings, investments and assets such as jewellery or paintings etc
Additionally there are 'invisible assets' such as pensions, share save schemes, share options for which we obtain valuations to add to the 'pot'. Often clients will have over-looked these and may be surprised at their value - in some cases the pensions are the largest assets of the marriage.
In some instances there may be 'hidden assets' and if we are to achieve a fair settlement these need to be identified. This may include trusts and off shore assets. Often there is an element of detective work involved in what we do - this is very specialist and necessitates both experience and persistence.
Businesses bring a further dimension to identifying assets, whether the client (or their spouse) is self employed, a shareholder in a private business, part of a family business, a farming operation or an investor - all have different complexities and risks.
We use a 'Form E' to capture all of the financial information together in order that we can move to the next step which is to negotiate the settlement - the devil is in the detail. The importance of accurate information cannot be underestimated.
It may seem possible for a couple to 'just divide up the assets' but it is imperative to ensure that any divisions or transfer of assets do not trigger tax or capital gains issues, and if they do that these issues are dealt with within the agreement. Apportionment of liabilities is equally importance at this stage.
When your financial future is at stake and particularly if you have any level of complexity with your finances you need a solicitor who is a financial settlement specialist. Very few other solicitors have the high level of 'Resolution' accreditation that I hold - don't hesitate to speak to me if you need to secure your financial future following separation.
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