Welcome to Intelligent Divorce

The Money and Divorce blog is brought to you by Intelligent Divorce, the new way to get fixed-fee specialist legal advice on splitting your money when you divorce.

Our blog provides illustrated practical guides for those going through the divorce process, plus news on divorce, money and family breakdown.

"I would like to let you know that I found your website so invaluable in my divorce process. I am having to represent myself due to lack of finances and I know for a fact I wouldn't have been able to do it had it not been for your fantastic website. I would recommend it to anyone who find themselves in a similar situation to me." Madeleine

6 November 2017

Divorced women are missing out on £5bn in pension payments every year

Seven in ten couples do not consider pensions during divorce proceedings, leaving women short-changed by £5bn every year, according to new Scottish Widows research, reports Family Law Week.

The research shows that more than half of married people (56 per cent) would fight for a fair share of any jointly owned property, and 36 per cent would want to split their combined savings. Yet fewer than one in ten (9 per cent) claim they want a fair share of pensions, despite the average married couple's retirement pot totalling £132,000 – which is more than five times the average UK salary (£26,000).

In fact, more married people would be concerned about losing a pet during a settlement than sharing a pension (13 per cent vs 9 per cent) according to the research.

The key findings of the Scottish Widows' report are:

  • Women are less well-prepared for retirement, with only 52 per cent saving adequately compared with 59 per cent of men
  • Divorced women are even less prepared – a quarter (24 per cent) are not saving anything into a pension
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 per cent) of divorced people did not discuss pensions during divorce proceedings
  • Divorced women are missing out on £5bn in pension payments every single year.

Scottish Widows says that almost half of women (48 per cent) have no idea what happens to pensions when a couple gets divorced, which may explain why so few couples consider them as part of a settlement. A fifth (22 per cent) presume each partner keeps their own pension and 15 per cent believe they are split 50- 50, no matter what the circumstances.

Nigel Shepherd, Head of Family Law at national firm Mills & Reeve, said:

"Pension sharing was introduced almost two decades ago, but it is clear that all too often in a divorce pensions are still not being taken into account properly or at all. The problem has been made very much worse by the fact that so few people are now entitled to legal aid and are having to negotiate the minefield of financial issues on divorce without even basic legal advice. This is storing up real problems down the line, in particular for women.

"While some pensions are relatively straightforward, others (for example public sector schemes) are complex. There is no substitute for expert legal and financial advice and the costs involved should be considered an investment."

31 October 2017

Government announces clampdown on child maintenance cheats

New powers to stop parents avoiding paying child maintenance that they owe have been announced.

Read more on Family Lore here.

Divorce law in England and Wales ‘increases conflict and suffering for separating couples and their children’

New research published by the Nuffield Foundation shows that divorce law in England and Wales is incentivising people to exaggerate claims of ‘behaviour’ or adultery to get a quicker divorce. In practice, these claims cannot be investigated by the court or easily rebutted by the responding party, leading to unnecessary conflict and a system that is inherently unfair.

Divorce affects more than 100,000 families in England and Wales every year. If separating couples want to get divorced without waiting for two years (or five if the other person does not consent, as with the recent case of Owens vs Owens), one person must submit a petition detailing how the other is at ‘fault’. In 2015, 60% of English and Welsh divorces were granted on adultery or behaviour. In Scotland, where a divorce can be obtained after one year if both parties agree, this figure was 6%.

The research, led by Professor Liz Trinder at the University of Exeter and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, is the first empirical study since the 1980s of how the divorce law in England and Wales is operating. The researchers recommend removing fault entirely from the divorce law and replacing it with a notification system where divorce would be available if one or both parties register that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that intention is confirmed by one or both parties after a minimum period of six months.

The study included interviews with people going through divorce, focus groups with lawyers, observation of the court scrutiny process and analysis of divorce court files, coupled with a national opinion poll and comparative analysis of divorce law in other countries.

Divorce petitions are often not accurate descriptions of why a marriage broke down and the courts make no judgement about whether allegations are true
In a national opinion survey, 43% of people who had been identified as being at fault by their spouse disagreed with the reasons cited for the marriage breakdown and 37% of respondents in the court file analysis denied or rebutted the allegations made against them by their spouse. In practice these rebuttals are ignored except in the rare cases where the respondent is able to defend the case (as in the recent case of Owens v Owens). The court did not raise questions about the truth of a petition in any of the 592 case files analysed, despite evidence that respondents disagreed with the claims made.
The removal of legal aid for all but a minority of cases (e.g. domestic violence), means that in practice, few people have the financial resources to defend themselves. For these people, getting divorced means accepting that the court’s decision relies on a version of events they do not consider to be true.

Read more here.