New year, new start? Divorce does not end financial claims!

By the 2nd week in January, New Year resolutions have often gone out of the window and the diet slipped on day three. But one thing that is increasingly on the minds of married couples when we enter into the New Year is the reality that it really is time for a new start.

January typically sees the number of divorce enquiries rise as relationships that are already starting to show cracks break down with the added pressure and expense the festive season brings.

While a relationship break-up can cause huge emotional strain and needs to be handled sensitively, it can also have serious financial consequences and taking the right advice early is key.

A common misconception with the Divorce process is that once the Decree Absolute is granted that this is the end of the matter.  Few realise that spouses can each still make financial claims against the other at any point in the future if they have not obtained a clean break financial order from the court.

There are different ways of resolving financial claims;

  • Directly with your spouse
  • Via mediation
  • Using collaborative law
  • Via solicitors
  • By issuing financial remedy proceedings with the court.

If you manage to agree a financial settlement without financial proceedings being issued then to ensure this is legally binding it is essential that you get the agreement incorporated into a court order.  If the agreement is intended to be in full and final settlement of all financial claims arising from the marriage then it is also essential that the consent order records this and dismisses all future financial claims, whether these be relating to lump sums, maintenance, property or pensions.

The only other way of bringing an end to financial claims after divorce is remarriage because there is no time limit on when a financial claim can be issued.  It is not uncommon for people to bring financial claims years after they have separated and/or divorced.  However this may prejudice your claim as the court will consider the circumstances and the needs of the parties as they stand at the time the matter comes before the court and not as they were at the time of separation.

Even remarriage will not always stop a financial claim.  For example if you were the Petitioner in the divorce and you included a financial claim in your divorce petition then the fact you have remarried will not prevent you from making a financial claim against your former spouse.

Resolution of financial matters is a complex area, therefore if you are looking to issue your own divorce it is still always worthwhile to seek advice from a family lawyer to ensure you are protected.

In many cases where matters are agreed, we are able to offer fixed fees to deal with the divorce and obtain a financial consent order.

At KBL, we offer a free initial 30 minute consultation with a family specialist so if you have separated or are considering separating then please contact Victoria Melling, Head of Family Law on 01204 527777 or by email vmelling@kbl.co.uk.

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