Will a divorce end future financial claims?

by Kidd Rapinet on June 10, 2024
couple sitting separately on stone bench

A common misconception about divorce is that once you are divorced and the court has granted a decree absolute, neither party can make any financial claims against the other regarding property, pensions, income, etc. This is not however the legal position, in that financial claims against the spouse or former spouse can only be dismissed upon the making of a consent order approved by the court, within divorce proceedings.

This often surprises separating couples who assume that once a divorce is finalized, no future financial claims can be made against them, however, without a court order dismissing all income and capital, a former spouse can still make claims even many years after the divorce.

Under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, a spouse or former spouse can claim:

  1. Maintenance (periodical payments)
  2. A transfer of property
  3. An order for sale of the marital home and other property if applicable
  4. A lump sum or lump sums
  5. Pension sharing or attachment orders

It may be that you had a verbal agreement with your spouse about finances, but that you didn’t formalize this into a legal document drafted by solicitors, whether in the format of a separation agreement or consent Order. This will still expose you to a claim despite the agreement reached, as this must be formally documented to carry any weight, and the best option is the consent order being not only a document expressing the terms of agreement, but having been ordered to be enforceable by the court and therefore its terms are binding.

Without the protection of a consent order, a former spouse can make a claim, many years after the divorce in the event of one of the parties winning the lottery or receiving some other windfall, or upon the successful growth of a business. There have been landmark cases in which a spouse has successfully made an claim, on their former spouses wealth as late as ten and twenty years later. It is therefore clear that, without the protection of a consent order your future wealth could be subject to future claims many years down the line, so opening up your post-separation financial accrual, and involving expensive and protracted litigation.

To get a consent order, you need to agree the financial terms of the settlement, alongside the divorce, with your spouse, and then submit it to court with a Form D81 setting out your financial circumstances both before and upon the implementation of the settlement terms. You do have to make a separate application to the court for the judge to consider your financial remedies settlement, which will also involve an issue fee of £58.00. This is then considered and hopefully approved by the District Judge, and sealed by the Court, on the basis that it represents a fair and equitable distribution of the matrimonial assets and income.

It may assist the process of negotiation and agreement, to enlist the help of a mediator or lawyer, and so avoid the cost, delay and stress of contested proceedings. You can however only ask a Judge to approve the consent order once the court has agreed that you can get a divorce, in that you have received your Conditional Order formerly known as the decree nisi. The terms of the consent order can then be implemented upon the final decree of divorce being granted.

This article was brought to you by Kidd Rapinet’s family solicitors. You can book an appointment with any of the family lawyers across our other offices in Aylesbury, Canary Wharf, Farnham, High Wycombe, Maidenhead or Slough, using the form provided.  Please use the links provided to find more information on divorce or separation, child arrangements and other areas of family law.

These materials and content have been prepared for the benefit of their viewers/readers. They are intended for marketing purposes only and are of a general nature and do not constitute legal advice applicable to any particular facts or circumstances. Kidd Rapinet LLP and/or the author(s) accept no duty of care, responsibility or liability for any loss or damage which you or any third party may suffer as a result of any reliance or use by you or them of these marketing materials and content, except to the extent it is not legally possible to exclude such liability. If you require legal advice on your own situation, please contact us so we can discuss how we may assist.


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