04th Feb 2014

5 core beliefs that can cause bad divorce settlements

and what you can do about them

The beliefs that people hold about themselves can have a catastrophic effect on their divorce settlements, often leaving them with inadequate money and poor long term provision.  We set out, below, five such beliefs and the effect they can have.

“I’m not entitled to anything.”

This belief convinces us that the provisions that are available, such as a division of money, property, pensions or income could not possibly apply to us.  It may well be that this belief has been planted and carefully nurtured by their partner during the relationship.  The practice of  cultivating a sense of financial dependence coupled with the threat of certain financial ruin should a partner leave is not uncommon.

This belief can also arise simply from a state of not knowing what the legal rules are or getting wrong advice from unqualified sources, friends or family.

What to do

Take clear legal advice from a specialist family lawyer about what the law and previously decided cases say you are entitled to.

“I don’t deserve anything.”

This belief can stem from a sense of guilt or remorse, especially if you blame yourself for the end of the relationship.  It can be difficult to separate your beliefs about your role in the end of the relationship from your concerns and real need for financial support. 

The reality is, however, that the two are not connected. 

When courts have to decide how matrimonial assets are to be shared between a separating couple they are usually entirely disinterested in how the marriage came to an end or any allegations of who was to blame.

What to do

Instructing a lawyer can help you to distinguish those thoughts that are about regret or self worth and those thoughts that are about the sensible planning for the future of your family.  Working together with a family consultant, counsellor or therapist can also help you to start turning self-doubt into self-esteem once again.

“It will all be too difficult.  I can’t face it.”

Many people feel overwhelmed by the emotional fallout of a divorce.  They mistakenly believe that the hurt will end as soon as all the legalities are completed and that negotiating a proper settlement will only drag things out for longer.  As a result there can be a real temptation to accept the first thing that is offered to them `Just to get it all sorted and have a quiet life.’ 

There are many reported cases where one partner has regretted agreeing to a bad deal for these reasons and then tried at a later date to have it set aside.

They are almost always unsuccessful.

Another risk is that you do not have the time to deal with these processes.  You have to maintain your work, business, caring for the children or all three and so you simply want to get things sorted out as quickly as possible.

What to do

Make sure you appoint a legal team who are able to provide advice and clear guidance on what they will be able to do for you.  Although you will always need to have some involvement, your team will be able to do the vast majority of the work once they have your instructions and the information they will request from you.  Also consider counselling to help you to maintain your focus and commitment to getting a proper settlement, and resist the temptations to give up and accept anything.

“I’m no match for them.  They are bound to win.”

The belief here is one of self-doubt combined with an over-inflated view of their partner’s abilities.  The partner is seen as being excessively capable and successful.  We might be thinking about their successes in another sphere, such as their business or career.  Partners who have stayed at home to raise children can be especially prone to this belief.

What to do

Experienced specialist family lawyers will be used to dealing with people just like your spouse.  Use them, therefore, to level out the playing field. 

Even if an application to court is required to resolve certain aspects of your separation then the judges are also used to dealing with partners who think they have got all the answers.  They will be able to see through the power games that you might be worried about your partner trying to play. 

It is feasible that if one partner tries to manipulate courts based on their reputation, status or charm that it could backfire on them by arousing suspicions and leading the court to be even more careful to ensure that you have got time to put your case and be properly heard.

“I need to be independent.”

This belief is grounded in a sense of pride – and one that your partner will often be all too happy to promote!  The viewpoint might originate from learned experiences.  Perhaps the holder disapproved of their own parents’ separation.  Alternatively the media portrayal of divorce cases and spouses (usually wives) who have received large settlements might also result in a belief that seeking a proper settlement is unattractive or somehow immoral.

It can also arise from a sense of “I’ll show them that I don’t need them or their money.”

Gender equality based views can also distort our decision making here by making it seem offensive to us to look for provision from the opposite sex.

What to do

Specialist divorce lawyers, such as Covent Garden’s Family Law in Partnership will be able to provide advice on what arrangements are likely in your circumstances.  These views will be neutral in the sense that they will not be coloured by the other considerations set out above.  They will also be able to help you to explore the likely outcomes for you and any children if the independence route is pursued.  You will be assisted in some cases by working with financial experts who can forecast your likely financial circumstances for the short, medium and long term future.

What should I do next?

If you are contemplating or going through a divorce, or know somebody who is, and feel that one of these beliefs might jeopardise your future then get in touch with us right away.

Family Law in Partnership LLP are award winning divorce lawyers in London.  We are unique in employing family consultants as well as the very best divorce and separation lawyers so that you can receive the fullest advice possible.

You can contact us now by emailing hello@FLiP.co.uk or telephoning 020 7420 5000