Feeling lost about your finances during divorce? We’re speaking with professionals who can guide you through with bespoke divorce financial solutions in Hong Kong.
Preparing for divorce can be a stressful, lonely, and complicated process – and it’s especially so when money comes into play. Fortunately, there are reliable professionals who can give divorce financial solutions in Hong Kong. Meet divorce lawyer, Jocelyn Tsao (Family Lawyer at Withers Worldwide), Annabel McCormick-Houston (Chartered Wealth Manager at St. James’s Place), and Kishan Karia (Senior Wealth Manager at St. James’s Place), who are here to share with us their insight into divorce finances. Read on for some pointers in managing your wealth before, during, and after a divorce. And remember: you’re not alone!
Divorce financial solutions in Hong Kong
What does divorce mean financially to someone?
Annabel: Divorce already means a lot of changes, and finance is the last thing someone wants to be worrying about! In some cases, clients have approached me feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about their financial future. Since some spouses may never have dealt with household finances up until the point of divorce, they can feel quite lost when it comes to cash flow, savings, pensions, investments, and insurance – even more so if they’ve been relying on their spouse’s income.
Jocelyn: Indeed. For some people, the idea of divorce may seem like a threat to their financial security; they fear that it’d mean a change in their way of life, or even losing their family home and stability. For others, divorce might mean the threat of parting with their possessions and losing control over their hard-earned assets, such as when income that supported one household before divorce may then be required to pay for two.
Kishan: While navigating a divorce can be financially challenging, there are a number of steps that can be taken early on to lessen the costs and anxiety associated with it. A close examination of your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses is crucial to understanding how a divorce will be settled in terms of the division of property. A financial and legal advisor can work through this with you before you even begin the process of separation.
How can people better prepare themselves financially before, during, and after a divorce?
Kishan: Whether divorce is a positive step for you or a difficult change you need to adapt to, going through a divorce can throw even the best financial plans into disarray. In some cases, taking the lead after not being involved in making financial decisions can also be daunting. Getting and staying organised is key, as well as seeking good counsel. At any stage of the divorce process, we try to help you understand your current financial position, how it might be affected by divorce, and how it will change over time. In any scenario, you shouldn’t be rushed into making any financial decisions.
Jocelyn: And to gain a good understanding of the family’s finances, don’t delegate all financial management to your partner; even if you do, try to maintain some idea of the family income, monthly expenditure, capital assets, and debts. Before and during marriage, you might even want to get a prenup or a postnuptial agreement in place (i.e. a contract that outlines you and your partner’s financial assets), so that you can protect your property and interests in the event of a divorce.
Annabel: Also, some spouses often come to me not knowing what they own, which adds to their anxiety. To take control of your finances, you can work with an experienced divorce attorney and a financial advisor to lessen your burden, and get clarity on your position and the process.
Jocelyn: Yes. During a divorce, find a lawyer who promotes sensible settlement over bitter litigation, so as to save on legal costs. Take advice from lawyers and accountants on what financial outcome would meet the family’s ongoing and future needs, so that you can grasp the bottom line for protecting your financial security and negotiate a settlement from that point upwards.
What are some tips you can give to those considering or going through a divorce?
Jocelyn: Divorce is never easy, and it can be even scarier if you have no understanding of what it entails. Speak to a professional: you may feel more relieved once you fully understand what the legal process involves. In the first meetings with you, an experienced family lawyer should be able to provide you with concrete suggestions, options, and advice on how to best achieve your goals and protect you and your children’s interests.
Annabel: Ensuring that you have all your finances organised can take the weight off your shoulders during divorce. I’d encourage clients to look towards the future, and work with a good financial advisor who can use sensible financial tools (such as cashflow modelling) to help them evaluate different scenarios and strategies.
Jocelyn: Moreover, emotions may affect your decision-making, so it’s vital to remind yourself to not be derailed over minute disputes. For those with kids, don’t lose sight of one of the biggest objectives, which is to shield the children from the conflict. This would mean being careful with what you say to the little ones about the other parent.
Kishan: Yes. Divorce can be emotionally draining, so my key tips would be to not rush the process, take care of yourself, and prioritise self-care. Remember to make time to do the things that make you happy, and spend time with supportive family and friends.
This post is sponsored by Withers Worldwide and St. James’s Place Asia.