Distressed Divorcer

More than 4 in 10 marriages end in divorce so there’s no point in beating yourself up. However tough you are and whoever’s ‘fault’ it was, there is a fairly long road of financial and legal points to navigate. From sorting the house, to working out child care arrangements, dividing the assets, agreeing any maintenance and splitting pensions, it’s not much fun at all. We'll help you tackle this one step at a time and give you an honest view of what you might be in for. 

We're told we move through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What they tend to omit is the happiness many people find after that. Chin up. 

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OK Distressed Divorced (Di-lighted?) 3

1Your divorce checklist - a practical to-do list

What's it all about?

What to do with the house and the mortgage; working out what child maintenance you will pay/receive; splitting up the wealth and sorting out pensions. These are some of the things our checklist will walk you through.

The very basic starting point for asset division is a 50:50 split of the wealth that has been accumulated during the marriage – so if your house has gone up by £30,000 since you bought it as a couple, the ‘back of the fag packet’ starting point is £15,000 each. If you earn less than £156,000 a year and you’re the main breadwinner who will have the kids the minority of the time, maintenance is circa 20% of your income for 2 kids, falling proportionately for every night they spend with you.  This link will help calculate your amount. Cars, houses, pensions, furniture, things you bought during the relationship – it all goes into the mix.

The longer you have been together, the greater the case for an equal split.

Food for thought

  • 2 kids? Ex earns 50k and has them weekends? Expect about £126 a week maintenance
  • Consider freezing any joint accounts
  • Get a valuation of any jointly owned property
  • Don't forget to factor in pensions to the financial pool of assets


Straight-talking facts and numbers to help you plan for the split. Tips and ideas from people who have gone through it. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. 


Holly talks to financial adviser Pete Matthews about a question that comes in from Mathilda, who is 43 and currently going through a divorce.

2Pensions - valuable and often overlooked

What's it all about?

Who cares about pensions when you’re going through a divorce, right? Wrong! This could be one of the most valuable assets to be split. Don’t leave it off the table. Generally speaking there is a Pensions Sharing Order – the pension is divvied up and the person receiving a bit of this as part of any settlement will need to open up a pensions account for this to be transferred into. If your ex was in a public sector scheme you’ll generally stay in this. 

If you need to open a pension account and are a bit stuck, we think Aviva, Fidelity or Standard Life are all reasonable, big-brand, relatively simple options if you want to park this money somewhere solid for now, get it off your plate and think about it more once the dust has settled. 

The lowdown

  • You’ll need to work out what your total pensions are worth today – dig out statements
  • For ‘final salary’ pensions you will need a Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV)
  • Pensions can be the most valuable asset for some people


Have a look at our Pension best buys.


Paraplanner Richard Allum reminds us to keep a note of company pension schemes, personal pensions, and State Pension amounts to help when settling divorce finances. Read more in his article.


Holly talks pensions and how to get free money from the Government.


In this audio guide, Holly and Georgie discuss pensions saving in your 40s.

3Find a lawyer - #grityourteeth

What's it all about?

Unless you are confident you and your ex can agree everything amicably, chances are you’ll need to find a lawyer. This does not come cheap. Ask your friends, financial adviser or work colleagues for any personal recommendations. Empathy with your lawyer is important, but remember, you want this person to fight your corner, sensibly and practically, not to be your best friend.

Realistically, a divorce lawyer will cost in the region of £200-£300 an hour – unless you are Angelina Jolie. Without much dispute and avoiding Court, you might get away with as “little” as about £5,000-£10,000. If you’re fighting everything, it gets super expensive. Trying to keep as much out of Court as possible is very sensible. There comes a point when your anger may only be funding your barrister’s next skiing holiday.

You might want to consider engaging a financial adviser for a ‘cashflow modelling exercise’ to get a sense of what you actually spend on the household and the kids – as a guide this exercise can cost about £750-£1,000 but it could be worth it.


The who and how much

  • If you earn less than £156,000 childcare maintenance is a standard formula
  • Divorce lawyers typically cost between £200 and £300 per hour
  • Irwin Mitchell and Slater & Gordon are 2 national legal firms working on divorces


Check out some of these articles which may help you.

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We can help with that

3 minute read

Pensions sharing and divorce

Paraplanner Richard Allum explains how pensions are often the second most valuable asset in divorce. How can you split them and what does it mean for you?

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11 minute listen

Podcast: Pensions and divorce with adviser Pete Matthew

Our short podcast with financial adviser Pete Matthew tackles this jolliest of subjects.

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2 minute read

Sometimes it pays to sweat the small stuff?

If you're like most people going through a divorce, you'll be focusing on the big issues. But there are also several other issues that can be missed.

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Divorce for the working woman

What can working women do to protect themselves if they feel that divorce may be looming? Here’s a 10-point plan.

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1 minute read

Divorce: common misconceptions

You might think you know it all and what to expect when it comes to divorce, but just in case, here are some statistics and facts to understand.

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1 minute read

Maybe you’re not as mad as you think?

Don’t panic. Divorce brings out the worst in all of us. But there are also some funny moments. Take comfort from these extreme cases.

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