Step 2 - How can I find out what is a fair settlement?
A question that almost everyone going through divorce will ask at some point is :
"Can someone just tell me what a fair settlement is in my situation?"
Unfortunately this is not an easy question to answer - partly because everyone's circumstances are different and partly because family law is based on rather vague principles rather than a precise formulae.
Below are a number of options that are available:
1. Ask a solicitor
Some solicitors will try to give you a rough indication of what is fair, but most are unwilling to commit to offering any opinion until they have had full financial disclosure from both parties. This means that you have to spend a lot of money on the financial disclosure process with a solicitor before you get clear advice as to what would be a fair settlement.
2. Ask for a barristers opinion
Some barristers offer a service where they will provide an estimate of the likely outcome in court if you provide them with the full details of the case - including both sides financial disclosure. This service is not cheap - perhaps costing around £1000 to £1500, but may be useful in cases where the are high value assets or income.
3. Use the Wikivorce Calculator
Wikivorce provides a divorce settlement calculator that tries to guesstimate a fair financial settlement on divorce. The advantage is that it is free to try and can be done in around 1/2 hour or so if you have the basic financial facts to hand. The disadvantage is that the results need to be treated with great caution as it is very easy to get misleading answers - especially if you make a mistake in entering the data. One useful aspect of the calculator is that its input fields help you to understand what is and is not relevant in divorce. E.g. Length of marriage and who looks after the kids ARE BOTH relevant (and are input fields). The unreasonable behaviour that led up to the divorce IS NOT relevant (and so is not an input field).
4. Ring the Wikivorce helpline
The advisors on the Wikivorce helpline have years of experience in divorce and financial settlements and can certainly point you in the right direction. The advisors are not solicitors - so any information they provide should not be regarded as legal advice. They can however provide you with a lot of relevant information that can help you get a better idea of what is fair in your circumstances. The helpline number is 01202 805020 and the lines are open from 9am til 11pm - Monday to Sunday.
5. Ask on the Wikivorce forum
You can submit a post detailing your financial circumstances and asking for opinions on what is fair on the Wikivorce discussion forum. There are many people in the community with good experience in these matters who will be happy to offer their opinions/ thoughts on your case. You shouldn't rely soley on the forum reponses when making decisions but you will almost certainly get plenty of food for thought.