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Divorce - finding your number

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Anyone who has been through a divorce will have hit that low-point when the emotional, financial and legal pressure points collide. It’s a pretty bleak time. No financial know-it-all can take away the stress or the anger. The desire to split assets in half literally. With a saw! But we can help you to get a sense of what you’re in for. Here are a few quick tips on how to get a sense of your number.

The first things we tend to think about are the house. And the kids.

As a very rough rule of thumb, couples will split the assets accumulated during the marriage 50:50. That includes the property. So think about when you bought the house. Did you buy it when married? What was it worth. What is it worth today? What’s the mortgage on it? If one of you wants to stay put, maybe to keep the kids in the family home, speak to a lawyer about your options.

As for kids, well, if the main bread winner earns less than £156,000, maintenance is agreed with a formula, based on earnings and the number of children. The amount you pay ratchets down for every night they spend with you. The formula and calculators are online - if you have children jot down this number. Any school fees aren’t included in this figure.

When it comes to spousal maintenance, well it partly depends on your working circumstances and whether any one party put their career on hold for childcare or other reasons. Try and get a sense of what you (or your ex) spend every month. Forget the fripperies – what’s the amount you need each month for bills/food/clothes etc. Courts don’t apply a ‘bastard levy’ or a ‘cheater tax’ when looking at this stuff – so keep it factual and keep it business-like!

One key thing which people forget at this time is pensions. But did you know that pensions can often be worth as much as the equity in the family home? So don’t forget to lump this into the mix. You need to get a sense of what your pension is worth, or what your ex’s is.

The longer-term stuff can take ages to sort out. As you’re working through this, remember the more immediate things. You probably want to cancel joint accounts or cards. And think carefully about joint liabilities. Good luck. The storms do pass but it can seem to take twice as long as you’d hoped and cost twice as much. Remember to surround yourself with friends and supporters. That could include a good financial adviser who will have your back. Fees start from about £150 an hour but this could be worth its weight in gold.