When a couple are going through a divorce, sorting out the financial side of things, to achieve a fair divorce financial settlement, can often be a real point of contention.
Dealing with everything from what will happen to the family home, to how (and if) pensions should be divided, can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what a fair divorce financial settlement may look like.
In England and Wales, the divorce and the divorce financial settlement are two very distinct undertakings. Many people assume that getting a divorce will automatically separate them from their ex-partner, divorce financially. This is simply not the case.
In order to separate your finances, you and your spouse will need to arrive at a divorce financial settlement. Divorce financial divorce settlements can include how any savings will be divided, what will happen to any property and the amount of any spousal maintenance.
If you are unable to come to an agreement between yourselves about how your finances will be split when you divorce, you can use methods such as mediation or collaborative law to help you to reach an agreement. After you have reached a divorce financial settlement, this can then be turned into a court order. This process is done separately from, although normally runs concurrently with, the divorce itself.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, you can ask a judge to decide your divorce financial settlement for you. Asking a court to decide your divorce financial settlement is normally viewed as a last resort, as it can be a costly and time-consuming process.
Even after your divorce, you and your ex-spouse can still make divorce financial claims against each other. This is why it is vital to ensure that you have a court order which states your divorce financial arrangements.
Even if you and your ex-partner do not have any assets, it is still important that you ensure that the divorce financial side of things is taken care of when you divorce.
It is possible to get a court order which will separate you and your spouse divorce financially, even if you have no assets.
This may seem like a waste of time if you do not have any assets to split at the time of divorce. However, there was recently a case where a couple did not get a court order to deal with the divorce financial settlement at the time of their divorce (because they did not have any assets) and one party later came into some money. The other party made a divorce financial claim against their ex-spouse and was awarded a large sum of money by the court. This serves as a cautionary tale to anyone considering not dealing with the divorce financial settlement upon divorce.
It’s vital to tackle your divorce financial settlement when you divorce, whether or not you have any assets. Otherwise, you could find yourself dealing with a divorce financial claim from your ex-spouse many years into the future.
Neither is it uncommon for one or both parties to meet someone after a divorce financial settlement has been finalised by the courts and for one or both of them to question whether or not this may change the original divorce financial settlement.
What many people often do not realise is that, in some circumstances, this new relationship may have a bearing on their divorce financial settlement.
Whether your divorce financial settlement will be any different due to your new relationship, depends upon your individual circumstances, so it is highly recommended that you speak to a solicitor regarding your situation. However, in order to gain a better understanding of the financial impact a new relationship can sometimes have on a divorce settlement, it is worth taking a look at a few general issues.
If you are cohabiting with your new partner before your divorce financial settlement is finalised, this may be taken into account by a judge and your divorce financial settlement may be different to what it would have been, if you were not cohabiting with someone new.
This is because if asked to decide your divorce financial settlement, a judge will be looking at both yours and your spouse’s circumstances, as well as your needs.
Arguably, if you are living with a new partner, your needs may be less than if you were not in a relationship.
However, a Court of Appeal case in 2016 ruled that an ex-wife of a millionaire was able to keep her £3.5 million divorce settlement, even though she was cohabiting with her partner.
The judge said that financially, the “presence of her new partner in her life did not diminish her needs”.
In this ruling, the Court of Appeal seems to have clarified that a new partner should not necessarily result in a reduced divorce settlement.
Moving in with a partner after the divorce financial settlement has been finalised could result in your ex-spouse asking to reduce spousal maintenance – or even request to stop paying altogether. This is a highly complex area of law so it is important to seek legal advice.
If you get child maintenance from your ex-spouse, this is not usually affected by moving in with a new partner or marrying them.
The other parent will still have a financial responsibility towards their child.
If you decide to remarry after divorce, any maintenance payments will stop. As we mentioned above, this area of law can be highly complicated and often comes down to individual circumstances.
Whether you are already divorced and your divorce financial settlement has been finalised or whether you are still going through the process, if you are concerned, it can be helpful to seek legal advice as to the financial implications of cohabiting with a new partner.
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