A recent high profile case in which the Supreme Court Justices enabled an ex-wife to make a claim against her wealthy ex-husband some 20 years after the divorce had been finalised, reinforces why solicitors strongly advocate the necessity of a financial consent order within divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership proceedings.
In this case the parties had been married 11 years and had one child together. At the time of the divorce neither party was wealthy and there were no financial matters which required resolution. However, following the divorce the husband went on to become a multi-millionaire wind farm entrepreneur and now has an approximate worth of £157 million. This illustrates that even if there are no finances that require resolution at the time of divorce it is imperative that a clean break consent order is entered into to dismiss and further claims.
Whilst getting a divorce ends the contract of marriage, the financial claims afforded the couple by virtue of their marriage will remain live, unless a clean break order, severing the financial ties is put in place. Whilst some couples are able to amicably agree on the division of their marital assets, the failure to record the agreement into a legally enforceable order however, means the divorced couple could still make a claim on each other’s assets in the future.
A consent order enables the divorcing couple to record any agreement reached regarding the division of the finances and can also deal with the dismissal of any future financial claims they have against each other, meaning the couple will divorce with a clean break with no financial ties to each other.
Without a clean break consent order, as it has been seen in recent news (see article in The Telegraph), an ex-spouse could make a claim for capital and or income if the circumstances of the former spouse have dramatically improved since separation.
Certain circumstances such as the need to provide security for young children until they are grown or the need to provide the other spouse with ongoing support under a maintenance order, means a clean break will not always be appropriate. However the maintained spouse may cohabit or remarry and children will grow up and become independent in their own right. It is therefore still possible to provide for a clean break once certain conditions are met.
A consent order deals with financial matters in an amicable and expeditious manner and protects the parties in the future without the need to have to attend court. Therefore when getting a divorce, it is always sensible to take legal advice on the financial matters that arise from your marriage and how best to reach settlement and ultimately severe these financial ties.
If you need further advice or assistance on a matter of dividing marital property, or how to put a consent order in place like I have described above, please contact any of the the family law team on 01604 828 282.