Often individuals wrongly assume that in going through the divorce process and obtaining a Decree Absolute, this also provides for a clean break in relation to financial matters. This is not the case.
Parties who have been, or are going through a divorce should be aware that they are potentially at risk from future financial claims from their former spouse, even years after the divorce is finalised. This is because the only way to have certainty in relation to financial matters is for there to be a Consent Order/clean break prepared upon divorce. This generally runs parallel with the divorce itself.
Often when being advised about the importance of dealing with financial matters upon divorce, clients will say that they have little assets to protect and therefore feel that this is not a concern for them. However, parties should also consider any wealth that they might accumulate in the future, for example, a windfall such as a lottery win or an inheritance.
A former client came in for advice following news that her ex-husband had won a large amount of money on the lottery. The parties had divorced some years previously and divided their property and assets, however, they did not bother to have a Consent Order prepared embodying their agreement. The former wife had subsequently re-married. As there was no Consent Order, the parties’ financial claims had not been dismissed and remained open. Therefore, the former wife was able to claim a substantial sum of money from the ex-husband, even though she had remarried in the interim.
This case demonstrates the importance of having a consent order prepared upon divorce, in order to have certainty for the future. If in the above scenario, the parties had entered into a clean break at the time of divorce, the former wife would have had no entitlement to make a claim.
Another high profile case in 2017 of Katherine Wyatt versus Dale Vince, involved a financial claim being made many years after the divorce, highlights the risk of a claim popping up at any time in the future when a clean break at the time of divorce isn’t completed.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.