Whether it’s concerns about expense or that you have read a do-it-yourself manual on Google, you may decide to handle your divorce without taking legal advice. In the short term, this approach may be cheaper than talking to a qualified solicitor. However, in the long-term it could prove the costliest decision you have ever made.
As a couple separating you may reach an agreement in respect of the family home and other assets that are to be divided. What you may not realise is that any verbal or even written agreement reached is not legally binding. People are often surprised to discover that, despite having been divorced for many years, their former husband or wife is entitled to make further financial claims against them including, for example, an inheritance or even a lottery win.
Just because you have a paid lump sum to your husband or wife, it doesn’t mean they can’t come back for more.
Ending your marriage does not end the financial ties and responsibilities you have to one another. So, even if your family home has been dealt with or money and assets transferred, the court still has the power to make further orders, despite the fact you are no longer married. This also applies to pensions.
Furthermore, as assets increase in value over time, your former spouse could have a greater entitlement than they would have done at the time of the divorce.
The court also has the power to make orders in relation to income and maintenance to be paid to a former spouse. It is important to note this is different to child maintenance which must be paid to the primary carer regardless of whether the parties are married or not.
To avoid all these potential claims, agreements reached must be formalised. This is achieved through a ‘Consent Order’.
A Consent Order sets out how the finances are to be divided or how they have been divided and it must be filed at court.
It will provide for a future clean break in respect of any capital assets and provide either for a clean break on income or detail when that will be achieved.
Not having a properly drafted Consent Order may put you at risk of future claims in respect of your assets and income, sometimes years after your divorce has been made final.
For further information regarding divorce law, please contact Marwa Hadi-Barnes.