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Can financial matters be dealt with after divorce?

Most people believe that once a divorce or dissolution is finalised, then they can move on with their lives and make decisions about finances without the threat of this being claimed by the ex. However, this is not the case. A Decree Absolute or Final Dissolution Order only terminates the marriage thereby allowing you to remarry again. It does not however terminate any financial claims the ex might have which means in essence, that you are still financially connected.  

Unhappy couple unable to resolve financial arrangements.

It is well known through cases that ex partners can and will re-appear years later to claim a share of an asset that you may have thought ‘became’ yours post the termination or have acquired since the termination believing this to be safe from any claims. Whilst the lapse in time including other factors are taken into account when determining an application, the fact is that an application itself can be made as of right and the courts will entertain it. So how can you ensure that the uncertainty of security with regards to your income, capital and pension can be made certain?

There are 2 ways in which a claim for a financial provision by one party to the marriage/civil union can be terminated:

1. If the applying party remarries

The remarriage trap is one that some people fall into. Having entered into a new relationship post the separation and eager to remarry straight after the divorce/dissolution, the remarrying party is unaware that their remarriage will automatically bar their right to any financial claims which would include claims for a periodical payments order, lump sum order and property adjustment order. Note that this would not include a claim to the other party’s pension. 

2. There is an order of the court

Of those who have been too put off to remarry or enter into a new union, it is crucial to seek legal advice at the time of applying for a divorce/dissolution with regards to your rights to financial provision. You may decide that you do not wish to claim anything from the ex but rather protect what you have from any unwanted claims. Alternatively, you may wish to make a claim for money or property or preserve a claim for the future if the ex’s finances are not currently so healthy. In any case, both parties should engage in negotiations with a view to agreeing a settlement that is recorded in a court order approved by the court. This is the most certain way to legalise the division of your assets and if carefully and properly drafted will ensure that all claims by both parties are dismissed in life and on death. 

Settlements can be negotiated on a voluntary basis through solicitors or independent mediation. Or if the relationship breakdown was bitter and acrimonious, then applying to the court through a formal application may become necessary. 

Either way, the importance of finalising the division of your assets post a final decree terminating your relation cannot be over-emphasised. 

If you need any assistance with regards to this or any other family matter, please get in touch with us or contact our Family Solicitor Salma Butt at sbutt@freemanharris.co.uk

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