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Are your post-divorce finances in order?

A Decree Absolute will bring your marriage to a legal end, but it will not end the financial commitments that exist between you and your ex-spouse.

For all financial ties to be cut with your ex-spouse, you need to apply to the Court for a Financial Order. Even if you currently have no particular assets, this should be done as it will protect any wealth you may develop in the future. Without the Order, there will always be a risk that your ex can make a financial claim against you.

Finalising the divorce settlement

As part of your divorce, you will need to work out the financial aspects of your separation, for example:

  • How are savings and/or any pensions going to be split?
  • How will the equity of the family home be divided?
  • Is one party going to provide the other with spousal or child maintenance?

Some people make an agreement between themselves, often because the divorce is amicable or because there are very few assets to divide. In other cases, the Financial Settlement will be disputed, and the couple will need to come to an agreement which can be reached either via mediation or negotiating through a divorce solicitor.

If the dispute cannot be settled by either of these methods, the matter can be heard in the Courts, where a judge will make the final decision.

Obtaining a Divorce Financial Order

Once the Divorce Financial Settlement is finalised, the agreement should be made legally binding by applying to the Court for a Financial Order.

In England and Wales, an ex-spouse can legally request further money from you at any point; a Financial Order is the only way to ensure that any financial obligations between you and your ex are cut.

There are two key Financial Orders:

  • Consent Order
  • Clean Break Order

Consent Order: For divorcing couples who have assets to divide and who want to make their Financial Settlement legally binding. A speciaist solicitor can help you draft the Consent Order and it is then sent to the court for approval. Once the Judge has approved it, neither person can make a financial claim against the other.

Clean Break Order: For divorcing couples who do not have any assets to divide, but still want to ensure that any financial ties between them are cut.

Many people assume that because they have no assets at the point of divorce, there is no point in getting a Financial Order. What is the point in protecting money you don’t have? But it’s wrong to assume this because there is always the possibility that you will come into some money in the future. If you do, your ex is within their legal right to make a claim. Like a Consent Order, a solicitor can help you draft a document which must then be approved by a Judge.

You do not need both a Consent Order and a Clean Break Order; one of these will be appropriate, depending on what assets you currently own.

Written and contributed by North Yorkshire Law

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to North Yorkshire Law directly.

Published on 3rd December 2018

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