I thought that my stbx and I were having reasonable, decent and amicable discussions about arriving at a financial settlement. About our only reference point was friends who divorced a couple of years ago who were in a very similar situation to us. So we talked about applying their final agreement (which was arrived at in a pre-hearing) to us and I spent some time looking at future income/expenditure and disposable income it would leave each of us with.
She has recently told me that she has received advice from a friend''s mother, who is a divorce lawyer, that what I (we?) had talked about is nowhere near enough!
Clearly the situation is quickly shifting from what I thought it was to a bargaining scenario which almost inevitably will include solicitors and likely go to court.
1. Have I compromised my position by talking about something which I regarded as a fair, reasonable and pretty much final suggestion which she/lawyers/courts might now perceive as a starting point for negotiation.
2. Unfortunately, I gave stbx copies of the spreadsheets and summary that I drew up, none of them marked "without prejudice"! Is that very bad? What could I do to correct this?
Feeling rather foolish! But also rather upset that stbx is taking advantage!
Have you financially disclosed to each other on a voluntary basis.
If you post details people may be able to advise regarding what might be considered a fair split.
Length of marriage including cohabitation
Children and their ages and with whom they live.
Respective incomes including any benefits
Assets -equity, savings shares etc
Respective pension values
What were the spreadsheets showing? If it was factual financial information I wouldn''t be concerned this needs to be disclosed anyway.
Divorce settlements depend on the specific details and each case is different. A common mistake is to assume assets are split 50:50 which isn''t the law in England & Wales, or at least it''s an over simplification. I doubt very much that you will have compromised yourself.
The starting point is to disclose all the assets held in joint or sole names which can be done voluntarily or the court will require it during financial proceedings. Assets are then split according to a checklist of factors in s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Unless there is considerable wealth usually needs, in particular for housing, comes at the top or very near the top of the list.
From the legal point of view a "fair" settlement is one that complies with s25 and other law.
I wouldn''t worry about the spreadsheets as these were created after you had discussions between you about a way forward and are merely illustrations of possible splits. My husband produced dozens of them when we were negotiating but they are really just a starting point. Until you have full financial disclosure I cannot see how they could be interpreted as an offer.
Along with the spreadsheets I gave her a document which I called a "draft financial settlement". It and the spreadsheets include what could be regarded as an "offer" from me i.e. a SM amount, suggestion that I pay all kids'' costs until after uni etc. etc.
I''m worried that talking to her about this and certainly by committing it to paper and giving it to her that a court will now see this as the MINIMUM I should pay. In other words, having initially suggested it why would a court make me pay LESS.
The court will only make an order if your case reaches final hearing. The court will make an order based on the needs of the parties, the amount and type of assets and various other factors.
If you entered into negotiations without any legal advice, your discussions will not colour the court''s view.
The only time your proposed settlement might be relevant is if you try to make a case that you should pay less because you cannot afford it in which case your spouse will say "if you couldn''t afford it, why did you say you could?". The easy answer to that is that you did not take all things into account which is easily done.