Looking on the bright side of divorce

Liz Allen of Stephens Scown
07519 647890

Liz Allen of Stephens Scown PICTURE BY MATT AUSTIN 07519 647890 maustinpics@gmail.com www.mattaustinimages.photoshelter.com copyright Matt Austin. - Credit: Archant

Life has a way of creating great tragedy in our lives, often when we least expect it. However, this anguish, once the shock has lessened, can sometimes work out for the best.

One such heartbreak is often divorce, well known to be one of life’s most stressful events, which if well handled and well advised, can phoenix into a happier, financially stable and better future for all concerned.

In a recent survey undertaken by London’s Kingston University, 10,000 people in the UK, between the ages of 16 and 60, were questioned regularly over two decades, and asked to rate their happiness before and after major milestones in their lives. Interestingly women, five years post divorce, were very happy with their new found single state. Men, however, although happier, appear less contented post divorce.

Perhaps this isn’t too surprising as approximately 80% of women are the instigators of divorce petitions. Hence the resulting decree absolute is an opportunity to draw a line under one stage of life and start afresh.

The ability to pension share, brought in 12 years ago, provides a positive outlook in the form of financial security. Offering a clean break from their former spouse without the worry of income in the future, takes much of the stress away once the deed is done. Unfortunately, only 15% of divorcing couples take advantage of pension sharing and usually it is the wife who misses out on the opportunity of financial stability in later life.

The mistake that people make is that pensions do not appear to have a large value: the income can sound quite modest, especially if it is a future projection. However, a good occupational pension can be worth millions in capital terms and, given the relative ease with which a pension can be shared on divorce, it is very surprising that more people do not take advantage of this option.

An ever improving housing market also helps divorcing couples – indeed the divorce rate increases in line with the rise in house prices, no doubt as couples feel they will have a healthier pot of finances ensuring they will separate more wealthily.

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The slightly more relaxed lending market seen at present also makes divorce easier, allowing one partner to buy the other out – not only from the marital home, but also from a jointly owned business. Buoyancy, however slight, within business provides confidence and the willingness to take on challenges which at other times may seem less appealing.

There is no denying that divorce, at any stage of life, can be a huge upheaval, but sound professional advice will go a long way towards helping you stride forward with confidence and come out the other side with belief in a positive and a more financially secure future.

Liz Allen is Devon’s top divorce solicitor. She is partner and head of the family law team at Stephens Scown LLP in Exeter. Liz is recognised as having one of the best family law teams in the South West, as rated by independent legal guides Chambers and Legal 500. She has also recently been named on the 2013 Citywealth Leaders List, an international guide to the most highly regarded figures in private wealth management. n

To contact Liz, please call 01392 210700, email solicitors@stephens-scown.co.uk or visit www.stephens-scown.co.uk