When a relationship breaks down irretrievably, emotions run high and friends and family can be quick to offer advice. Immediate concerns will be for any children from the relationship and the impact on them. Here are a few points we encourage clients to consider in the initial weeks and months following a separation before resolving matters in the longer term.
1. How best to tell the children?
This will always be the hardest part of dealing with a separation but research suggests that the impact on the children can be lessened if the parents are able to work together right from the beginning. Most children will benefit from the parents presenting a united front. Sitting down together to break the news, however difficult that is, demonstrates that you are still able to work together and have their best interests at heart. They will know that their parents are still committed to them and it will prevent them from hearing two conflicting explanations. This will be very hard, particularly where one party feels that the other is at fault for the separation.
2. Make a Will
If you have not made a Will since marrying then your assets (up to a certain amount) would automatically pass to your spouse on your death. If you made a Will following your marriage you are likely to have made provision for your spouse. Whilst divorce doesn’t revoke a Will, and the current Will remains valid, for inheritance purposes, your ex-spouse is treated as if they had died when the marriage or civil partnership was dissolved. It is therefore very important that a new Will is put in place in that time between deciding to separate and the divorce being finalised if you don’t want your spouse to inherit as a previous Will provided. This would not prevent your spouse from being able to claim against your estate completely should you die before the divorce is final but would go some way to providing reassurance that they might not receive everything.
3. Notify the relevant agencies
Many couples receive tax credits and it is important that any claim is updated as soon as possible following a change in circumstances to avoid being over paid. Likewise, it may be that, as a result of your separation, you become eligible for tax credits/other benefits and such additional financial support can be vital in the early days of separation.
4. Consider CGT and other tax implications
Tax is an incredibly complex area at the best of times but it can be extra complicated by a divorce. It is important to receive early advice on the implications. For example, spouses who have second homes or rental properties may be able to transfer those to each other within the tax year of separation without becoming liable to CGT. If you move out of the family home for any length of time before seeking to resolve ownership of it you may find that you become liable for CGT despite the fact that it used to be your principal residence. Expert advice should always be taken on individual circumstances in relation to tax.
5. Take legal advice
It is important that you take legal advice at an early stage. It does not mean you are taking an aggressive or confrontational approach. Indeed if you choose a Solicitor who is also a member of Resolution we are committed to helping you resolve matters in constructive and non confrontational way.
If you need any further advice or are worried about your circumstances resulting from a recent separation, there is more information on our website www.gotelee.co.uk or you can telephone Demelza Butler on 01473 298158, email [email protected]