Dealing with the financial settlement aspect of a divorce can, for many, seem very low down on the ‘to-do’ list. As divorce solicitors, it is not unusual for clients to come and see us to start divorce proceedings and to have not yet considered how the financial settlement may look further down the line.
If a couple do not agree a financial settlement at the time of divorce, there is a possibility that financial claims could be made by either party in the future.
One such case hit the headlines in March 2015, when a woman, Kathleen Wyatt, who had been divorced for over twenty years, was granted permission by the courts to lodge a claim against her ex-spouse, Dave Vince.
The couple had met back in 1981, when they were reportedly “penniless travellers”. They went on to have a child together but, after ending their relationship in 1984, later divorced in 1992. They reportedly did not make a financial settlement when they divorced, as they had “so few assets”.
Mr Vince later became a multimillionaire businessman.
In June 2016, Ms Wyatt was awarded a £300,000 lump sum. The couple had, at this point, been divorced for more than 23 years.
This case illustrates how important it is to deal with finances at the time of divorce.
Whilst the circumstances are somewhat unusual (not many of us will see our previously penniless partners become millionaires), it serves to highlight how important it is to finalise financial matters and not to leave claims for financial provision open.
It is also worth noting here that not dealing with financial matters upon divorce could result in you being financially associated with your ex-spouse i.e. still linked to them financially. This may affect your credit score if, for example, your ex-spouse runs up debt in the future.
Sometimes, a couple can agree what their financial settlement will look like, between themselves.
If no agreement can be reached, other methods such as mediation or Collaborative Law can be utilised.
Due to the time-consuming and expensive nature of asking a court to decide a financial settlement, this should usually be viewed as a last resort if no agreement can be reached.
When a financial settlement is agreed, a couple can make this legally binding by obtaining a consent order from the courts.
This can set out everything from what will happen to the family home to any pension sharing that will take place.
It is highly recommended to seek advice from a solicitor regarding whether a consent order would be right for your circumstances.
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