The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands)
This multi-disciplinary route to divorce sees lawyers dealing with the legal side of a split; financial neutrals assisting with financial planning for both parties and any children; and councillors or psychotherapists supporting with the emotional impact.
I’ll usually become involved in the phase between a date of separation being lodged and the couple reaching a formal agreement.
In these instances, many will have a joint home, perhaps one person and the children are still living there while the other adult has moved to rented accommodation.
Chances are there’s a shared mortgage, income and outgoings. I come in at this point to look at how they might manage financially and move towards a secure financial future separately.
How it works
Many couples will need help to work out their income and outgoings.
I work with them to assess the facts, look at how they can meet those outgoings and reduce any costs, if possible. This could include temporarily moving to an interest-only mortgage or cutting back on certain expenditure.
And these arrangements have to be grounded in reality. I show them how to look at liquidity, whether assets are tied in pensions, property or perhaps buy-tolets, and whether there’s enough money to support the purchase of separate homes and household costs.
This process also takes into account outgoings for children such as school fees, tutors and activities. It may be that both parties want to live in the same type of house they shared before, or both live close to a child’s school, but it’s not always possible financially.
Maybe the husband or wife is a larger earner and feels more secure for the future, while the other person feels at a disadvantage, having stayed home to care for children.
The final agreement
The final stage of collaborative divorce involves five-way meetings with the couple, their lawyers and a financial neutral to create a written separation agreement, which lawyers advise on and that is binding.
Often, I’ve seen how this approach brings couples closer to an understanding of how they can constructively move on.
It’s a far cry from the antagonistic – and often costly – version of divorce through the courts, which can only be a good thing when it comes to staying emotionally, and financially, fit.