Reader's Digest recently published an article titled "The Worst Divorce Settlements ever - and How to Avoid one yourself". It is written from an American perspective, but actually carries with it a very good message on the underlying principle of fairness when it comes to divorce.
The fairness principle rings true for divorces in Scotland. We have a very clear framework when working out what would be fair for divorcing couples. The Reader's Digest article includes key pieces of advice on what you can do to achieve the best divorce settlement. Here's a Scottish spin on those:-
Keep records of everything
Music to the ears of "organisers" and a very good idea, especially for those who have complex financial affairs, assets belonging to them when they marry or where you receive gifts or inheritances during the marriage.
Because we look to share in what spouses have accumulated during the marriage from the date of marriage to the date of separation under exception of gits or inheritances received during the marriage, record keeping is really helpful in Scottish divorces.
To achieve the best divorce settlement you want to be able to clearly show when you have moved your pre-marital, gifted or inherited finances around.
Think about tax
Another key message. There is no point negotiating a settlement which then brings with it a heavy tax bill. Things could be organised differently and in a more tax efficient way. This is particularly important if you have shared business interests, there are second homes or multiply properties.
Depending on when you separate some tax allowances remain available for a certain period. It is therefore important to think about tax from an early stage if you are going to get the best divorce settlement.
Lots of people want to don their battle gear and go to war with their spouse when they separate. That's perfectly understandable. One of the emotions following a relationship breakdown is anger. However, in the long-run it is not always the wisest move.
Think about the last time someone was aggressive towards you. How did you react? Did you say "that's ok then"? Probably not. You will more likely act very defensively or aggressively back.
Now think about a situation when someone was reasonable in a difficult situation. How did you act back?
If you want the best divorce settlement be persuasive, reasoned and follow good advice.
You hear many stories in the press about people hiding assets from one another when it comes to divorce. This doesn't happen often in Scotland. When it does the person trying to be "smart" is often found out, resulting in a loss of time, trust and goodwill.
Disclosure of information is an important part of figuring out what is fair, so be upfront and honest with your husband or wife in the first place if you are going to achieve the best divorce settlement.
Following these key pieces of advice will help you achieve the best divorce settlement not just in monetary, but also in relationship terms.