In keeping with the modern practice of divorce and family law, our ethos in relation to financial issues is one of attempting to resolve those issues without resorting to litigation wherever possible and we have a very high success rate in negotiating favourable settlements on behalf of our clients.
However, on those occasions where it does not prove possible to resolve issues by negotiation, collaboration and mediation, we have considerable experience of conducting contested divorce actions in both the Court of Session and in the Sheriff Court as circumstances dictate.
In order to correctly apply the law relating to financial provision in a particular case a detailed analysis requires to be carried out of a couple's assets and the source of their acquisition. The overriding principle is that there should be a fair sharing of the"matrimonial property". We can advise fully on which assets fall to be treated as matrimonial property and what factors should be taken into account in order to achieve a fair division of that property.
There are a whole range of issues which can serve to add complexity to the financial aspects of divorce. These include:
Because assets owned by one party before the marriage are not "in the pot" it can sometimes be necessary to try to identify what an individual owned many years previously. It may also be necessary to trace the conversion of assets which had been owned at the date of marriage between that date and the date of separation.
For some clients it is a significant concern when they separate from their spouse that the other party may already have disposed of assets without their knowledge, or may be on the point of doing so. In certain circumstances, there are remedies available where premature disposal of assets is a real risk. We are able to act quickly and thoroughly to respond when these situations arise.
The valuation of an individual's interest in a business is often a matter of dispute and the valuation of a shareholding in a private limited company can be particularly contentious. We liaise frequently with experienced forensic accountants to enable us to provide comprehensive advice. Gillian Crandles has a wealth of knowledge in this field.
Some of the most difficult cases which we handle are those in which a couple have not only been married to each other but are also in partnership with each other in a business. The couple are therefore in two separate conflicting legal relationships with each other. We liaise with other lawyers within Turcan Connell with proficiency in the field of partnership law in these circumstances and with accountants to ensure that comprehensive advice is provided. Both Alasdair Loudon and Gillian Crandles have particular experience in this field.
When couples separate and a farming business is involved, extremely complicated issues can arise. The approach to be taken can vary depending on the structure of the farming business and whether the business has been passed down through the generations of a family. Agricultural Law is one of Turcan Connell's areas of ability and our experience in handling divorce cases involving farms means that we are ideally placed to provide advice in this field.
Pension sharing arrangements provide a useful vehicle to be used in certain cases to facilitate fair sharing of assets. The method of valuing a pension for this purpose can be controversial. We frequently liaise with Consulting Actuaries with regard to pension valuation issues and pension sharing. Their expertise is complemented by that of Turcan Connell's divorce lawyers to allow us to achieve practical solutions for clients.
The remuneration packages of executives, particularly in the field of finance, present a challenge to solicitors firstly in assimilating the essential characteristics of a specific package and thereafter in placing a value upon it. We have extensive experience of assessing the extent to which the value of those assets fall to be taken into account in a divorce and we frequently liaise with forensic accountants on such valuation issues.
We regularly consult with our colleagues who specialise in tax related issues to ensure that clients have the best possible advice as to how a liability to Income Tax or Capital Gains Tax will impact upon the terms of a settlement.
Involvement of a Trust in a divorce can lead to complications. We liaise with our colleagues in our Wills, Estates and Succession Planning Team to ensure that comprehensive advice is given in relation to such matters.
Very substantial differences exist between the law of divorce in Scotland and in England. It is of considerable importance to ensure that proceedings are dealt with in the jurisdiction which is most favourable to our client. We are able to provide expert advice on such jurisdictional issues, particularly as Alasdair Loudon is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and Gillian Crandles and Sally Nash are enrolled as solicitors in both Scotland and England. Turcan Connell's London office allows us to meet with clients living in the South east of England and provides a facility for consultations and settlement discussions.