Indeed, one of the first questions many of our clients ask us, is if it is possible to have a clean break from their other half after they divorce, with all finances completely separated (usually, it is, but it is not suitable for everyone so it’s important to get legal advice).
One of the main benefits of a clean break, is that it provides certainty for the future, which is why this approach is often encouraged by the courts.
The short answer is yes, it is possible to change a divorce financial order.
However, in practice, it’s not easy to do so. A judge will only alter a divorce financial order in a limited set of circumstances.
Your spouse (or you) could choose to appeal against a financial order, if you think there has been an error made by the judge in applying the law to your case. However, time is limited if you want to do this, so it’s highly advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
It’s also important to note at this point, that your spouse (or you) would need to seek permission from the court in order to appeal the order. Permission to appeal will only be granted if the appeal would have a real prospect of success (it is up to the court whether this is the case) or there is a compelling reason why the appeal should go ahead.
If you did appeal the order, the appeal judge/s could either set the order aside, affirm it or, alternatively, the judge could choose to vary the order. Equally, the judge could decide that a specific issue needs to go back to the lower court to be looked at again.
In some limited circumstances, your spouse (or you) could argue that the courts should reopen the financial order because of an event that occurred after the original order was made.
The event would have to be significant in order for a court to reopen a case like this. Again, it is highly advisable to seek legal advice if you wish to do this.
Sometimes, it may be possible to set aside a financial order due to, for example, duress or fraud.
Although getting a financial order changed is possible in some circumstances, it is not particularly common.
If you wish to alter a financial order, speed can be of the essence, so it’s crucial to seek advice from an experience divorce solicitor as soon as possible.
Whether you’ve gone through lengthy negotiations with your spouse to reach an agreement or were unable to agree and asked the courts to decide for you, you’ll no doubt be breathing a sigh of relief that your financial settlement is finally finalised. Or is it?
Financial settlements which could easily be changed would provide both spouses with very little financial security and closure after divorce. That is why there are only certain circumstances when financial orders can be changed.
Life does not stand still. Events happen which change our circumstances, meaning that the financial order that made sense when the divorce took place may now not be appropriate. When circumstances change, the courts have the power to vary financial orders.
Most commonly, the courts see applications to vary maintenance amount or length. However, the courts can also vary other elements of a financial order, if the circumstances dictate, such as an order for the sale of a property or an order for lump sums by instalments.
When varying financial orders, the judge will always have the needs of each spouse at the forefront of his/her mind.
As well as varying a financial order, the courts also have the power to set aside financial orders in some circumstances. This includes, but is not limited to:
If it is found that full financial disclosure did not happen at the time of the original financial settlement, the courts have the power to vary or even set the order aside. For this to happen, the asset/s that were not disclosed would have to be substantial or the information that was not provided at the time, key to the settlement.
If one spouse influenced the other party to agree to the financial settlement at the time of the divorce, the court again could choose to vary or set aside the order.
If one spouse acted fraudulently, this could result in the order being set aside or varied in the future.
In some very limited circumstances, a financial order may be changed due to an event taking place. For this to happen, the event would have to have occurred very soon after the order was made and be significant enough to warrant the changes to the order.
While financial settlements are generally seen as final, there are some circumstances, such as undue influence, fraud or an unexpected and significant event, that may justify changing or setting aside a financial order.
If you would like to have changes made to your financial order, it is highly recommended that you seek expert legal advice specific to your circumstances.
Our expert divorce solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues:
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