The law can seem daunting at the best of times, often mired in complex language with so many scenarios, permutations and loopholes that it can seem like something of a baffling beast.
As family lawyers, we understand how confusing and complicated it can all be, and if you find yourself needing to take legal advice it is perfectly understandable to be a little daunted and wonder how to approach your lawyer.
In this series of articles, we’ll be looking at some of the reasons people visit us, and try to bust some of the myths about lawyers and the law.
First, we’re going to turn our focus to financial settlements. When you divorce or separate, you will need to reach a financial settlement that is fair to both parties. But talking about your personal finances to a stranger can feel odd – it’s probably not something you even discuss with your closest friends. Here are some of the things people worry about… and why you really shouldn’t.
Lawyers are all rich. Will they look down on me if I haven’t got much money?
Firstly, we’re not all rich! And no, we don’t look at your personal finances with any kind of judgement – we are there to provide forensic scrutiny to establish the best solution for you – nothing else.
Will my lawyer think I’m greedy because I’m asking for financial support from my ex partner?
When a relationship breaks down, we have to establish all kinds of things from a financial perspective. This includes where you live, who is looking after any children, division of assets. A financial settlement is designed to offer both parties a fair solution and a comfortable lifestyle within the context of the available assets. You are legally entitled to reasonable financial support to achieve this. The amount will be dependent on your financial circumstances.
I think my ex partner is being unreasonable in their demands but I don’t want to seem mean…
As we’ve outlined above, a financial settlement is about creating a fair outcome for you both (and any children you have together) after the marriage has ended. It is not about one person having a lavish and luxurious lifestyle while the other lives on the poverty line. We urge you to trust in the law and trust in the process that you will receive a fair outcome.
I am desperately unhappy in my marriage but I’m worried I can’t manage financially alone.
This is a very, very common worry – in particular from women who may have given up work to bring up children and either not returned or gone back on a part-time basis. But reassuringly the law now recognises bringing up children and maintaining a home as equal to working in paid employment. Remember, your lawyer is on your side and understands that everyone is coming to them from their own unique circumstance. Whether you have left work, brought up children or are a homemaker… we treat you with respect and ensure you don’t have to continue living in an unhappy relationship due to financial fears.
I don’t want to admit that I’m in debt or have spent recklessly in the past
Nobody wants to admit to financial recklessness. Any current debts will be assessed as part of the scrutiny before a settlement is made. We can’t emphasise enough – you must be 100% transparent with your lawyer and the courts about every aspect of your finances. Once again, we’re not there to point the finger at you and tell you off – we’re there to make sure your future is adequately provided for and guide you through what can seem a minefield of uncertainty.
Essentially, we would like to reassure you that you needn’t worry about talking to a family lawyer. We’re all experienced and we’ve seen it all and heard it all! Everything you tell a lawyer is in complete confidence.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.