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When going through a divorce, it is often a misconception that a Decree Absolute will finalise everything. Whilst it will end the marriage, a Financial Remedies Order is still required to sever the financial relationship. Without one, a former spouse could still bring a financial claim many years down the road, including claims upon the estate following death.

This risk was highlighted again in the recent case of A v B [2018] where a husband made a financial claim against his ex-wife 14 years after their Decree Absolute. In this case the husband’s claim was unsuccessful but the facts are reminiscent of those from the 2016 case of Wyatt v Vince. In that case the couple were married for two years and divorced in 1992 but their financial claims were not dismissed. During the marriage they had lived in relative poverty but many years after the divorce the husband became a multi-millionaire. In 2011, the wife commenced a financial claim and the Court awarded her a six-figure lump sum payment.

These cases highlight the risks of failing to obtain a Financial Remedies Order, whether by consent or following a contested court hearing, to end the possibility of future matrimonial financial claims. It is advisable that separating couples ensure they obtain an Order to tie up all loose ends, even where no significant savings or assets are involved. In cases where couples have already agreed the division of assets between them, whether informally or by way of a Separation Agreement, it is still important to obtain an Order that reflects the terms of that agreement.

If you are going through a divorce or separation or have previously done so and do not have an Order in place, then you may need to obtain legal advice. These principles will also apply to civil partnerships.

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