When either a Decree Absolute or a Final Divorce Order has been made by the court, it of course brings your marriage or civil partnership to an end. Many people assume therefore that it can mark the end of their obligations to one another. Even though the marriage or civil partnership has come to an end, the financial obligations you have to one another also need to be resolved separately.
It is therefore extremely important to consider the financial implications of the end of your marriage or civil partnership, even if there are no assets to consider. Although that in itself might sound like a ridiculous suggestion, in fact what you will be doing is potentially protecting your future position.
When married or civil partnered couples separate, some may have a family home, bank accounts and possibly pensions to divide. Some couples may need the assistance of a family solicitor or mediator to help them resolve the financial issues between them. Others may end up going to court and having a court order imposed upon them as to the division of their assets. In those circumstances, a court order will be entered into, setting out the division of any capital assets (to include, for example, property, bank accounts or investments), pensions and dealing with any issues in respect of maintenance.
But what happens if you just agree between you what is to happen to the house or bank accounts? You may decide to just walk away with what you have. Or what if there is simply nothing to divide up? Do you really need to have a court order drawn up when you have agreed or there are no assets?
This is where you need to future-proof yourself; protect yourself and any possible income or capital that you may accrue going forward. If you do not deal with those financial ties at the time of your relationship breakdown, then your former partner may be in a position to come back at a future point and make a financial claim against you. Of course, there may be no need for concern if there are no financial assets, but what if your former partner now wants to have a share of the house that you thought was yours? What if you have progressed well in your job and have accrued some capital and have a healthy income that could pay some spousal maintenance? What if you inherit assets from a family member or win the lottery? In order to protect your future self, then yes, you ought to enter into a consent order at the time of your divorce, dealing with the potential financial claims that could be made.
No one can predict the future, and anything could happen that may change your fortune, whether expected or not. If your fortune does change, is that really the time you want to hear from a former partner, who may be struggling financially?
How successful such a claim against you would be is uncertain and not yet fully tested in case-law, but is it worth the risk? If you have any questions about your financial position following a relationship breakdown, then please contact us.