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The importance of Financial Orders

There are many ways of resolving financial issues and many separating couples are in the fortunate position where they are able to reach an agreement between themselves, through negotiation or in mediation.

You may have seen reported in the press recently the case or Mr and Mrs Briers. In this case the parties reached a financial settlement amicably at the point of separation but failed to execute the agreement confirming the settlement. The parties had an oral agreement only. Mrs Briers subsequently applied to the Court for further financial support and was successful.  The Decree Absolute was pronounced 10 years ago.

It is not the case that the Decree Absolute of divorce brings financial claims to an end. The only way the parties’ respective financial claims can be finalised with any certainty is for an Order to be lodged with the Court. If the agreement is reached by consent this will be by way of  a “Consent Order” which negates the need for either party to attend Court. In the event that there is no agreement it is open to either party to lodge a claim for financial relief to the Court until their remarriage. This is called the remarriage trap. The spouse who has not remarried will however still be able to pursue financial claims against the other.

In the above case it was possible for the wife to apply to the Court as the financial claims had never been dismissed by way of an order. The Court may take into account oral agreements as part of their decision making process but you must be aware that such agreements are not binding.

It is therefore always advisable, no matter how amicable the separation, to finalise any financial agreement by way of a Court Order to prevent such a scenario occurring in the future.   If the Consent Order had been signed and lodged with the Court it is highly unlikely that this situation would have occurred and the parties’ respective claims would have been dismissed some years ago.

Key contact

Mark Day

Partner and Head of Family Law

Call 01904 610886