Divorce – how a specialist IFA can help you achieve a fair financial settlement

First published 07 January 2012 • Updated 25 July 2019

Unfortunately, a significant number of marriages end in divorce. Should this happen to you it is vital that, as well as speaking to your solicitor, you also obtain the advice of a Resolution accredited independent financial adviser (IFA). Article by Scott Gallacher.

An IFA can make your divorce easier

A specialist divorce IFA will be able to assist you in completing certain paperwork (such as the financial review known as a form E) thereby speeding up the divorce process and reducing your legal fees.  In addition, they can assess the valuations of both parties pension benefits and help you and your ex-spouse achieve a fair settlement of these valuable benefits.

How independent financial advice can help in divorce

The valuing of your pension benefits can be very complex, particularly in the case of final salary pension schemes.

In one case that I worked upon, the ex-spouse’s final salary pension scheme quoted a value of £194,000. However, upon further investigation we discovered that the scheme was underfunded – a fact that could have been easily overlooked, as it was only mentioned very briefly in one of the trustee’s letters.

Taking into account the underfunding (and allowing for the early retirement benefits available to the ex-spouse) the fair value of the final salary benefits would have been £353,000. But if the spouse had simply accepted the scheme’s own valuation, this would have cost them £79,500.

IFAs can also advise and arrange life insurance in connection with maintenance orders, either to protect your maintenance income in the event of the death of your ex-spouse, or to provide for your ex-spouse and your children in the event of your death.

Your adviser can also help you move on with your new life by assessing your post-divorce income and expenditure situation (cash-flow and budget analysis), advising on a new mortgage and generally helping you rebuild your finances.

Taking financial advice in a collaborative divorce

A collaborative divorce is a way you can potentially avoid the more confrontational aspects of a divorce. Instead of one spouse issuing proceedings and the other responding, the divorce is handled over a series of four-way meetings, including the two spouses and their lawyers. In a collaborative divorce, an IFA can work for both parties as the financial neutral. This role involves acting impartially providing information (as opposed to advice) to both parties and ensuring that they both fully understand all of the financial issues and your options. The idea is to help you both achieve a settlement you are happy with.

Seeking the advice of a specialist IFA as soon as you start the divorce process will help you achieve a fair settlement with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the financial matters have been reviewed by your own independent specialist. This could avert years of regret and hopefully avoid, or at least reduce, any resentment between you and your ex-spouse that could be caused by either party feeling that they had ‘lost out’ financially.

Divorce is never an easy time for anyone involved. But when an independent financial adviser is involved, it can be a good deal less traumatic and costly for all concerned.

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About the author
Scott Gallacher
Scott Gallacher
Scott Gallacher is a Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years of financial services experience. He is a winner of the 2016 & 2015 Unbiased.co.uk ‘Value of Advice Ambassador’ awards and has been shortlisted for 'Financial Adviser of the Year', 'Investment Adviser of the Year' and 'Protection Adviser of the Year' at the Unbiased Media Awards.