Decree Absolute Myth
- AuthorJulie Bennett
It is a dangerous myth that once you have your Decree Absolute in divorce, this automatically dismisses all financial claims you and your spouse have against each other. This is not the case, a financial order is required to dismiss all financial claims otherwise claims can remain open under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 for lump sum, maintenance, property adjustment and pension sharing orders. It is also worth noting that there is no time limit preventing an ex-spouse coming back in the future (provided they have not remarried) for a second bite of the cherry, no matter what you may have agreed between each other amicably at the time of your divorce. If agreement can be reached, a Consent Order, which sets out the terms of a financial settlement and dismisses all future claims in both life and death is what is required to finalise the agreement. Once agreed, this can be lodged with the court upon pronouncement of Decree Nisi and a Judge can be invited to approve and seal the order.
We had a stark reminder of this in 2016 when Kathleen Wyatt bought a successful claim for a lump sum payment from her ex-husband, a onetime New Age Traveller who, post-divorce, went on to become a millionaire businessman by founding a successful green energy company, Ecotricity. Her claim was brought some 25 years after their divorce.
It is also important to ensure that all financial matters are resolved before you consider remarriage, as a person who remarries before reaching a financial settlement with an ex-spouse will effectively be barred from applying for financial provision under the Act. This is commonly known as “the Remarriage Trap”.
If you would like to discuss finalising a financial settlement following your divorce please give us a call in the Matrimonial department on 01242 586 839.