The short answer to this is no. A Decree Absolute ends your marriage, but not your financial ties from being married. Unless a financial order is made it remains open for either party to make a claim on the other. The court have the power to make an order whether it’s of your own agreement (Consent Order) or by a Judge following an application for Financial Remedy once the divorce has achieved Decree Nisi stage. We would always recommend that the finances are resolved before applying for the Decree Absolute and bringing the marriage to an end. You could lose benefits relating to inheritance or pension/life assurance policies without the appropriate provisions being made for you within the order.
What if we have no assets to split?
If you have already sorted out your finances, or had no assets to split in the first place and no issues around income (save for child maintenance, which is a separate and ongoing financial obligation) then you can still lodge what is often known as a ‘clean break’ order by consent. This will bring each other’s claim against the other to an end and provide a financial clean break. This can be prepared by us for a fixed fee, contact us for more information.
We came to an agreement ourselves; we don’t need the court!
You can formalise your agreement in a Consent Order. The Judge will simply check that it is a fair and reasonable agreement and you should not need to attend court. It is always advisable to take independent legal advice on any settlement. If you are happy with your agreement whether it is through the assistance of mediation or between yourselves we can offer you advice as to your settlement and draw up the Consent Order and lodge with the court on your behalf on a fixed fee.
In conclusion it is always advisable to formalise any agreement to ensure neither party can go back on their word or to ensure a clean break between you both. Without this you are leaving yourself open to a change of heart or you are potentially putting any future windfall at risk and the potential hassle of defending a claim brought against you for a Financial Remedy Order. This is of particular importance when assets are held jointly.
But we cannot sell or transfer the family home now anyway, so there is no point in an order is there?
It may not always be a feasible solution to sell the family home straightaway for example if there is little to no equity to be freed up and where neither of you are able to solely take on the mortgage. The house may need to be a home for your children as you cannot afford a similar property separately. This is not uncommon and can still be resolved now to provide the security. Whilst a clean break is always preferable, even when this can’t happen it makes sense to plan and put into place what will happen in the future. There are various options, for example it can state the property is to be sold when the youngest child is 18 and the net proceeds of sale will be divided 50/50 at that point, with details included of any potential alternatives should your position change..
It is also important to get specialist advice and for any order to be properly and clearly drafted to prevent issues in the future.
We can assist you through the entire process and support you in trying to achieve the outcome you seek. If you require assistance in this regard, you can contact us on 0161 250 7771, and we can provide you a free telephone conference and agree on a plan of action moving forward.