Many people going through divorce mistakenly believe that once Decree Absolute (the final decree dissolving the marriage) is granted by the Court that all financial ties automatically come to an end and therefore neither of them may make a financial claim against the other in future. This is not correct and they may be unpleasantly surprised some time after the divorce has been finalised to find that their former spouse intends to make a claim against them in Court for a financial order e.g. a lump sum payment or a transfer of property.
In fact there is no time limit for an ex-spouse to make a financial claim against their former husband/ wife, as has recently been discovered by Mr Wyatt in the case of Wyatt and Vince heard in the Supreme Court in March 2015. Mr Wyatt and his ex-wife divorced in 1993, however she has made a financial claim against Mr Wyatt some 22 years later. Mr Wyatt experienced significant success in business after the divorce. The Supreme Court has allowed Mrs Vince’s application to go ahead and ordered that he pay for her legal fees. The case is to be heard in the High Court. It remains to be seen how the case will be dealt with in the High Court but the case does highlight the importance of obtaining a clean break.
If you do not have any assets at the time of divorce you may decide that you do not need to have a clean break order. However if e.g. you subsequently make a lot of money in a business venture or you are lucky enough to win the lottery your ex-spouse may decide to make a claim against you. So not having a clean break could have serious financial consequences for you at a later date.
If you both agree during the divorce proceedings, or even after they have concluded, that your matter is suitable for a clean break; you can apply to the Court to make that agreement binding. A consent order may be filed with the Court dismissing any future claims in life and in death (preventing an application being made against your estate in the event of your death).
For further advice in relation to a clean break and the cost of preparing a clean break consent order please contact our family team on 0115 9888 777.