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Financial tips for dealing with divorce

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Here's how to ease the financial pain of divorce.

Calls to divorce lawyers spike by more than 25% in January, as many find that the forced proximity of the Christmas season definitely does not make the heart grow fonder.

The papers are full of million-pound divorce settlements, the reality for most people is more prosaic – halving a family’s wealth doesn’t buy very much for either side and divorce is often a financial disaster.

However, if the festive season has finally convinced you that there is no long any other options, there are a number of steps you can take to ease the pain of separation:

1) Avoid expensive lawyers. This is easier said than done, particularly for more acrimonious divorces, but you don’t need to involve lawyers – you can arrange everything yourself, or use an online service. Alternatively, you can use lawyers for only part of the process.

2) Using a mediator can help keep costs lower and resolve disputes.

3) Consider whether you need to keep the family home. There is an emotional attachment to the family home, but often it is easier to simply downsize rather than take the financial risk of trying to hang onto the house. Most would be better off ensuring that they have a solid income than a big house.

4) Check asset valuations – Both parties need to disclose their assets on divorce, but houses, stock portfolios and other assets can change in valuation materially over relatively short periods.

5) Change wills and pension/insurance beneficiaries

6) Check your insurance – you need to ensure that you are not paying for insurance cover you don’t need – expensive mountain bikes on household insurance, for example.

7) Take account of all debts – both parties can be held responsible for all debts in some instances, even those in their partner’s name.

8) Cut all financial ties as quickly as possible. Close joint bank accounts and open new ones and cancel joint credit cards.

9) Have an emergency fund – holding six months’ worth of income will make the whole process considerably less stressful.

10) Plan – create a budget and a financial plan.

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