There has been much in the news about the introduction of the new ‘no-fault’ divorce, with claims that it is now simpler for married couples to achieve a divorce. Whilst there is much to be positive about in respect of the new rules, the idea that divorce is somehow ‘simple’ may be leading to couples missing an important aspect in the divorce process – that of formalising financial remedy.
Many people do not realise that a former spouse is entitled to claim against your money or assets at any point until:
- they re-marry
- a financial consent order has been approved by the court.
In the absence of either of these events, there is in fact no time limit to a former spouse bringing a financial claim against you.
Whilst the significance of these rules will be impressed upon clients seeking advice from a specialist divorce solicitor, those that opt to end their marriage via online divorce, or with minimal guidance from a solicitor, may not be aware that this is the case. There have been numerous cases brought to the family courts in which an ex-spouse is seeking a financial settlement many years – even decades – after their divorce was concluded.
Couples that are able to resolve financial matters amicably between themselves, perhaps having an informal agreement in place, may feel that they do not need to seek further advice or go to the time or expense of formalising their arrangements. This may prove to be a false economy as without a court order, the possibility for a financial claim remains open.
In the aim of dividing a divorcing couple’s assets according to the particular needs of each spouse, many court orders in relation to finances upon divorce will include an ongoing financial payment from one spouse to the other. Ongoing child support is another common inclusion, as is a future payment in relation to a business or property.
In the event that divorce concludes without a legally binding financial agreement by way of a court order, a claim may be made by a spouse to try and achieve the above retrospectively, sometimes going back many years.
It’s important to remember that circumstances can change dramatically over time, and even if a separation is amicable at the time, a financial claim could come back to haunt you in the future. Concluding a divorce does not mean finances are concluded…at least not without a legally binding court order.
Please contact Gianna Lisiecki-Cunane, a solicitor and director at O’Donnell Solicitors, on 01457761883 for advice about divorce or any other family law matter.