When you separate, one of the first worries is often ‘where will I live?’ and, ‘how will I afford it?’ and the idea of splitting assets can be very daunting, particularly at a time of emotional turmoil. Mediation can help you to resolve these, and other questions.
The good news is that the courts will want to make sure that you both have somewhere to live – if you have enough money to make that possible. The court will also place the highest importance on your children’s welfare, if you have any. This may mean that almost all of your assets may go to provide a home for your children, and the parent with whom they are living. But the courts will also give consideration to the need for the other parent to have somewhere to live, ideally somewhere the children can come and stay.
If you own your own family property, it is likely that you will have a mortgage and it is possible that the mortgage will be in joint names. On separation, one of the factors you may wish to consider is whether you will be able to get a mortgage in your own name and, if so, for how much. In mediation, we recommend that our clients speak to a good mortgage advisor to understand their options and the costs.
As part of our expert series, we caught up recently with mortgage advisor Joanne Ramsden and asked her how she can help clients in mediation.
How can you help clients who are separating?
J I’ve been a mortgage advisor for over 25 years, so I can guide my clients through the mortgage maze and help them understand how they can overcome any financial complications following divorce and separation. I can also provide a full assessment of the borrowing potential.
There is a vast array of mortgage lenders and they all take different things into account. For example, some may take child benefit or spousal maintenance into account, while some may not. So when faced with separation, you need someone who can expertly guide you and help you to work out what your options are – and how to structure any agreement to give you the best mortgage potential. I advise clients not only on what mortgage might be available to them, but also what they can do to improve their mortgage options.
How do you work with clients in mediation?
J In order to advise clients in mediation about their mortgage options, I first need full details of their income and outgoings. Clients working with Abingdon Family Mediation will have had a Financial Statement drawn up for them by the mediator. The Financial Statement includes a family’s assets and debts, income and future monthly expenses. The Financial Statement is supplied with all the corresponding statements and clients just need to send it on to me. Usually this is all of the information that I need in order to do initial research into a client’s mortgage options. If not, I will ask for more.
Can you help clients after they have reached agreement?
J Yes! Once they are ready to move on with their lives I am qualified to provide a fully packaged mortgage advice service, provide a recommendation as to lender and product, submit an application on their behalf and take this right through to completion, be that on a new property or on remortgaging their current home into their sole name. I can liaise with estate agents and solicitors.
Do you need to meet clients in person?
J No. The work can be done by email and telephone.
I can liaise with your solicitor, estate agent or mediator wherever they are in the country.
How much do you charge?
J I am happy to have an initial conversation with clients over the telephone free of charge. I can talk you through your options to inform your negotiations in mediation.
To proceed with a full mortgage application or to obtain a written mortgage report (for example for court purposes), I charge a fixed fee of £395. I will also receive some commission on conclusion of the mortgage.
Do you work with just one client or both?
J It’s up to them. If they want some advice on their individual mortgage options going forwards, then I can give advice to one of them. However, sometimes, separating couples want to know how they can structure their mortgages so that their house buying potential is maximised. In these cases, it can be helpful for me to provide advice to both clients. It can also be helpful when the family assets include second homes or buy to let properties.
Can you offer mortgages with any lender?
J We offer a comprehensive range of first charge regulated mortgage contracts from over 60 lenders across the market but not deals that you can only obtain by going direct to a lender.
A list of the lenders we offer products from is available on request.
If a client would like some help, what do they do next?
J It’s easy. Just call me on 01204 465524 or email me at Joanne@Joanneramsdenfs.co.uk and we can take it from there. If they have completed a Financial Statement in mediation, it would be helpful for me to receive a copy.