Sorting out the money: how does it work?
In a new series of blogs we’re turning our focus to the important issue of money and how you can sort out money related issues following a separation. As always we’ll be doing a Facebook Live on the Friday after the blog goes live to talk about the post in more detail.
Processing how you feel emotionally following a separation is a complex process that can take quite some time. This emotional recovery is often hugely affected by concerns about money. At some point in the immediate aftermath of a decision to separate thoughts start to slide in about how on earth you will be able to manage financially once you separate your money. You may also start to worry about whether you will have to move and whether you will have to return to work, change your working hours, try to get a better paid job. These can all be stressful thoughts at what is already a stressful time. Family mediation can help to break decisions down into manageable chunks.
Trying to pick out what the starting point is can feel nigh on impossible. A common comment to us in mediation is I can’t look at new houses because I don’t know how much money I’m going to get but the other person keeps asking me how much I need. It feels like a mass of knotted threads and you can’t work out how to untangle them.
This is where a professional like a mediator can be hugely helpful. Through mediation sessions a mediator can guide you through establishing exactly what money you have (both separately and jointly). You can then both look at different options with regard to housing so that you can see how much money you will need for each option. This then enables you to assess whether an option is workable or not, or what compromises you might need to make to make an option work, so that you can then decide whether you are willing to make those compromises (let’s face it some compromises always feel easier than others).
The starting point in sorting out financial issues following a separation is to get together financial information about property you own, bank statements you have, other investments, pensions, information about your earnings and your outgoings. A mediator will talk you through this. The way that you provide financial information in mediation is much more flexible than in the court process so you can do it in a way that makes it easier for you.
The mediator can then help ensure that you each understand the information the other has provided. They can also help you to deal with any questions you have about the information the other person has provided. This isn’t an exercise in ‘catching the other person out’ or things getting nasty. It’s part of putting you in a position of being able to make informed decisions about what’s right for you going forwards. When you move on to your new life following a separation it’s important you do that feeling that you’ve made the right decisions for you. Being there and being eaten up with concerns about whether you did the right thing, or whether the other person was hiding assets is no good for either of you. It’s much better to address any concerns right at the outset.
Mediation is also a great way of dealing with those concerns because by talking to each other directly you can resolve issues much more quickly than waiting for letters to pass. You can also correct any misunderstandings straight away. Communicating by talking generally leaves less room for misunderstandings because you can see the other person’s body language and hear their tone and instantly respond.
Once you are both clear about what assets you have you can then start to map out what your post separation life will look like and to see what the numbers of different options look like. You need to know how much capital you will need and how much money you will need every month to make each option work. By mapping out these options with a trained professional you can see whether they’re realistic or not. You can map out unlimited options in mediation so that you can find one that will work for both of you and your children.
Here at LKW Family Mediation we’re putting together online webinars that clients can download to give them the knowledge and the skills to sort financial matters out themselves as much as possible. We are hoping they will go live in the spring. They will be practical and reasonably priced and, we hope, an invaluable resource for those going through a separation. If you’d like to know as soon as they land on the website then sign up for our free mailing list. You’ll get loads of tips along the way to help you mange your separation constructively too. We also have a separate list for professionals working with separating couples. This includes resources for professionals to share with their clients and details of our forthcoming training workshops and networking events.
To watch the Facebook Live that followed this blog watch the video below: