Posted by: Amanda Barnett
Category: General Financial Advice

How to get your finances in shape during a divorce

Divorce, you never think it’s going to happen to you. We all know married couples who have gone through a messy breakup, perhaps even a pair who have gone all Gwyneth Paltrow/Chris Martin and ‘consciously uncoupled’. In fact, divorce rates are increasing again following a peak in 2003.

However it all feels very different when that person is you, the stories and statistics suddenly become real life fears and emotions. Finances can feel like an added burden, exacerbating an already unpleasant situation.

Of course, your solicitor or mediator will guide you through to settlement. But it’s also essential that you take independent financial advice before agreeing the financial settlement.

Often this is sought too late. Many people only look for advice once they are in receipt of a pension sharing order, a capital sum, or when they realise they now have to make financial decisions by themselves.

Even if you are financially aware, the new pressure of making decisions by yourself is daunting. Any previous planning will have been based on joint objectives. Now, you need to take control and make a plan which will make you feel you can move your finances forward and be confident in the decisions you make.

What to consider

During divorce, you need to ask yourself a selection of basic questions. These can look tricky at first, but they are lifesavers later on.


  • How much do you realistically need? Run back through the budget planner you completed (Form E)
  • Where is your income being generated from?
  • Do you need a return on your capital?
  • Are you in receipt of rental income?
  • Are you returning to work or changing your job?
  • What are the tax implications?
  • How will your income requirement change in the future?


  • What do you have?
  • Are they being monitored and invested to reflect your changed circumstances and priorities?
  • Is there a pension sharing order? What impact will this have?
  • Do you have property?
  • Are you going to continue living in your existing home?
  • How will inflation affect your capital?

The ‘what ifs’

  • What do you need as a contingency fund?
  • What is being designated to fund emergencies and larger purchases?
  • How accessible is your capital and how much needs to be accessible?

These are just some of the things you need to consider. It helps to know that you are engaging with a professional, not just one who can help with your financial needs and aspirations, but who can also speak in plain English and understand the sensitivities that go with a horrible situation.