Will a divorce bring an end to future financial claims?
It comes as a surprise to many people that, even when you are legally divorced, financial claims can still be made by ex-spouses, sometimes years in the future.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, spouses are permitted to make the following claims: –
- Maintenance (periodical payments)
- Transfer of property
- Order for sale
- Lump sums
- Pension sharing orders
These financial claims remain open between spouses and ex-spouses until the family court grants a financial order dismissing these claims and without one, you could be putting yourself at risk of an unexpected application by your ex-spouse in the future.
This does not necessarily mean that you need to attend Court, which is often a lengthy, costly and stressful process. It is possible to reach a financial agreement between yourselves, perhaps with the assistance of a mediator or lawyer, which can then be set out in a formal document, known as a “Consent Order” which must be sent to the Court for final approval.
A Consent Order is a document which sets out the specific details of your financial agreement and ensures that full and final financial settlement is achieved alongside divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, no one can bypass the jurisdiction of the Family Court and all Consent Orders must be ratified by a Judge as being fair and reasonable in all of the circumstances of the case. Without a Consent Order (or a Final Order imposed by the Court in Financial Remedy Proceedings), financial claims arising from your marriage will remain open, even if you have legally finalised your divorce.
This comes as a shock to many separating couples who think that, once the divorce is finalised and the Decree Absolute or Final Order has been granted, no financial claims can be made against them in the future, whether this be a claim against a replacement property or perhaps even a future inheritance. However, the fact of the matter is that, without an Order from the Court dismissing all financial claims, a spouse is entitled to make an application to the Court for financial provision against an ex-spouse, even if they have been divorced for many years.
If you are going through a divorce or separation and wish to discuss this further, the Family Team at Field Seymour Parkes would be happy to help.
 Reference to ex-spouses also relates to ex-civil partners