Festive Finances – Family Law Advice

Overspending at Christmas is not uncommon and considering the muted celebrations many of us had last year, it may be more tempting than usual to splash the cash.

However, each year come January many of us feel the financial strain – especially towards the end of the month when the credit card bills become due. For couples already struggling within their relationship, the festive financial hangover can bring additional pressures, and things may become too difficult to withstand.

Gianna Lisicki-Cunane looks at festive financial matters for couples under relationship strain.

As tempting as it might be, try not to overspend at Christmas – especially if money is already tight.  No amount of spending on gifts, festive activities or Christmas markets will be able to repair an already broken relationship. Instead, it may just leave you with further problems in the New Year. If your relationship is already facing difficulties, try to focus your time and efforts on keeping things civil for any children you may have. Arrange to have a measured conversation about how you will approach the festive period, and agree a code of conduct between you. By doing this in advance, you will have a baseline to follow and this may help to reduce anxiety around social situations you attend.

It may be that you have already separated from your partner and this is your first Christmas following divorce. If this is the case, try not to be tempted to use money as a weapon, or indeed a pacifier. Parents will always want to treat their children but following a divorce, Christmas and birthdays can soon become competitive between separated parents. This approach doesn’t do much to promote good financial lessons and no matter what you spend, any feelings of animosity are likely to still be noticed by children. Whilst there’s no denying that children love presents, the thing they value most is the time they spend with their parents and that time being filled with fun and enjoyment.

If you have already separated, you may have some ‘downtime’ over the festive period. Taking some time to organise your finances and getting matters in order can be a good way to start the New Year as you mean to go on. Whether it’s reviewing your pension, or making a plan for expenditure over the months ahead, gaining a better grip of your household finances is time well spent and can bring a sense of control and clarity, even if you are still emotionally struggling following your relationship breakdown.

Even couples that lived relatively ‘comfortably’ when together may be forced to face up to a new financial reality once separated. With two properties being required rather than one, and each ex-spouse having to fund living costs that would previously have been shared, the majority of divorcees will have to make some serious adjustments to their everyday spending.

Regardless of your situation, advice from a family law solicitor experienced in divorce can help to shape your financial future for the better. Once a financial settlement has been approved by the courts, it’s very difficult to challenge it in the future. Appointing a solicitor will allow you to be sure that a fair settlement has been reached, also giving lots of opportunity to seek wider advice on how to deal with your finances once divorced.

Gianna Lisiecki-Cunane is a director at O’Donnell Solicitors. Contact Gianna on 01457 761670 or email at gianna@odonnellsolicitors.co.uk for a no obligation appointment.