Friday, 01 June 2012

The Little Known Things That Matter During a Divorce

What are the things that people really care about when it comes to the painful process of dividing assets during a divorce? Divorce solicitor Ayesha Vardag reveals what really matters

Written by Katy Pearson

From my years working with divorcing couples, I’ve learned that it is often the smaller things that drive couples to distraction during the heartbreaking process of separating lives.

The bigger picture of homes, funds, income and where children will be spending their time is the meat of any dispute, however it's often the smaller items, such as the old ski suit in the attic or the Nespresso machine that get emotions running high.

Divorce can affect all aspects of a person’s life, from where the children’s toys are stored and who keeps the paintings you bought together, to the couple’s personal relationships and habits.

Dividing the friends may happen as inexorably as dividing the books and CDs, as few manage to pull off ongoing loyalty to both parties.

Pets can also be highly contentious when it comes to divorce, as are family photos, wedding presents from mutual friends and who retains membership of the golf or health club.

Generally speaking, women place a very high value on remaining in the family home; which of course is fraught with challenges when it forms a large portion of the assets. However, the dispute will often extend to the personal possessions attached to that home.

During the interim phases there can be bitterly fought applications to get hold of musical instruments, fur coats, jewellery and the like.

Regrettably, even brokering the pick-ups can present a wealth of problems, and often we have to advise that it’s cheaper to replace the item than spend weeks litigating about the issue.

Divorcees will often fixate on seemingly ‘little things’ in an attempt to displace the wider pain of what they’re going through. They want to cry out that they’re in pain and angry with their husband or wife for leaving them, having an affair or otherwise behaving in such a way as to make the marriage break down. They are often terrified that life as they know it is gone forever and they may never feel loved or happy again (which, I am pleased to say, is rarely borne out).

But they displace those feelings to being obstructive about the le Creuset pans because that feels like a stronger emotional position.

It’s important for both parties to a divorce to acknowledge their own fear and pain and anger but not lose perspective on what is and is not important.

Where you end up living, what funds you have to maintain your lifestyle and how things are for your children, these things matter. Memories, photographs of landmark experiences and families growing up, beautiful or valuable things that mark the passage of your history, these things can also be worth fighting for.

The other detritus of joint lives, however, can often be best swept away in the interests of as amicable as possible a split and a properly fresh start.

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