Clients will often ask now that I have my decree absolute am I divorced and are the financial claims dealt with as well?
The simple answer is no.
When two people marry, they enter into a contract that opens up financial obligations between one another.
A decree absolute, the document that brings the contract of marriage to an end, does not extinguish financial claims between spouses. These remain open and live indefinitely until agreement or final order.
A separate order known as a ‘consent order’ is required by the court to end financial claims against one another in life and on death. This is the case even where spouses reach an agreement directly and assets divided accordingly. If such an agreement is not written into an order and sealed by the court, future financial claims against one another will continue.
Typically, so long as enough information has been disclosed to enable a judge to make a decision on the order, it won’t be necessary to go to court. Your solicitor will be able to prepare the documentation for you.
A question I get asked regularly is, because there are no significant assets within the marriage, why do I need to spend money on a separate order from the court?
Well, until such time that an order is made, parties may be ‘divorced’ but they are still tied to one another financially.
In the case of Wyatt v Vince, the parties married in 1981 later divorcing in 1992.
After they separated, Mr Vince went on to build a successful business worth “at least” £57 million. Some 19 years after they had separated in 2011, Ms Wyatt made an application to the courts for financial orders. As a result of her application, the parties settled and Ms Wyatt was awarded reportedly a £300,000 lump sum payment.
Whilst it may be difficult to claim against an ex-spouse in the future, applications made can be expensive to both parties, drawn out and stressful to deal with. The cost of obtaining an order to end financial claims against one another at the time of divorce provides parties with a clean break, and the ability to each move forward with their lives safe in the knowledge that their future success is protected.
For further advice, please call Charlotte Perry, Solicitor, Thursfields Family Department on 01562 512428 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org