Divorce – the importance of a financial ‘clean break’

Jo Matthews - Family Law SolicitorIn a bid to avoid legal costs, an increasing number of couples are choosing to undertake their own divorce, or even to do it online.

This could however, leave them vulnerable to significant financial heartache further down the line.

A recent case (Wyatt-v-Vince [2016] EWHC1368) highlights this is a rather dramatic way. Kathleen Wyatt and Dale Vince separated in 1984, with their decree absolute coming through in 1992.

At the time of the divorce, neither couple had much money, and the husband subsequently embarked on a ‘new-age traveller’ lifestyle. In the years following the divorce, Mr Vince built up a highly successful eco-business and became a millionaire.

His ex-wife, some 19 years after the divorce, made a financial claim against him- something she was able to do because a financial consent order was never finalised. As a result, she obtained a six figure award!

It is often wrongly assumed that a Decree Absolute severs all ties

At the end of a divorce case, the Decree Absolute is pronounced. This dissolves the marriage. It is often assumed that as part of dissolving the marriage, this severs all ties between Husband and Wife. This is not so and is a trap which couples commonly fall into.

Until such time as the Court makes a financial order dismissing future financial claims, any claims will remain open.

It is therefore imperative, that after a divorce you obtain an order dismissing or restricting future claims. You could otherwise find yourself in the difficult position of your ex-spouse making an application out of the blue in future and benefitting from any wealth built up post-marriage.

Obtaining proper legal advice about your financial claims on divorce and achieving a clean break is vital.

Beware the re-marriage trap!

It’s worth noting that re-marriage following divorce, may prevent you for making a claim to achieve a clean break or to obtain an award you believe you are entitled to from your former marriage.

That’s just one more reason why legal advice is so important.

I am here to give you clear advice about any settlement you should seek and to ensure you are not subject to any nasty surprises…

Call me on 01284 701131

Or email j.matthews@burnettbarker.co.uk