You have agreed how to split your current assets in your divorce, so it is all sorted isn’t it?
There’s a common misconception that people only need a divorce solicitor if it is going to get messy or acrimonious. In fact, most cases we deal with don’t end up in court or involving long, drawn out battles.
Many of our clients understandably want to deal with their divorce and financial settlement as cost efficiently and quickly as possible. Part of our job as your solicitor is to try to avoid running up legal fees that could be avoided and to factor in the cost of taking a particular step when advising you.
Get all your financial information together
Within a divorce you both have a duty to each other to provide full and frank financial disclosure, including the provision of paperwork such as 12 month’s bank statements, property valuations, mortgage statements, payslips etc.
Many clients do the leg work with this, gathering the papers and often preparing a list of asset values which is very helpful. Some people then proceed to negotiate a split of their assets directly with their spouse, without engaging a solicitor.
Financial claims are triggered when a divorce is started
The assumption for most people would then be that given they have separated their assets or decided not to make a claim against any assets, this is the end of the matter.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Your financial claims against each other are triggered when a divorce is started. Those claims do not come to an end when your Decree Absolute comes through, they remain open.
Get a “consent order”
The only way you can bring the claims to an end is by obtaining a court approved “consent order”. If you decide not to make any claims against each other (either because you have already divided everything or decided not to pursue claims), you will need a “clean break” consent order. This is a court order drafted by a solicitor which is then sent to court for approval by a Judge (all done on a paperwork basis).
Without a clean break consent order, your claims are left open and either of you can pursue those claims through the court at any time. The only situation in which you are prevented from doing so is if you remarry (and have not preserved your claims in your divorce petition if you started the process). The person who has remarried is barred from pursuing a claim against their ex (although not vice versa).
Getting a financial consent order will safe guard you against future claims
The costs incurred to obtain a court order are minimal, particularly compared to those you could incur if a claim is made in future. And while you may think this will never happen to you there are lots of instances where this has happened.
A cautionary tale Vince v Wyatt
This case goes back to 2015. The two people were married for a few years and had a child together. At the time they were divorced, they had no assets. They did not obtain a clean break order.
Eighteen years after the Decree Absolute, the wife issued a financial claim against the husband who was by then a millionaire.
A costly and lengthy legal battle ensued around the issue of whether the wife should be entitled to bring a claim so long after the divorce.
The court concluded that she was entitled to do so. The court also ordered the husband to pay the wife’s legal fees to enable her to bring her claims. Eventually the husband agreed to pay the wife £300,000 (to include legal fees).
No doubt he spent a significant amount of money funding his own representation. It certainly would have been significantly cheaper and less stressful to get a clean break consent order sorted at the time of the divorce!
Get some legal advice
We are experts in brokering the division of financial assets and orders when people get divorced and offer anyone a free initial first consultation, no matter how long it takes.
If you need advice, please get in touch.