Rainscourt Family Law Solicitors

Divorce – and the clean break

I have noticed that there is often a difference between clients and their lawyers as to what they think is going to be the most important document in that divorce.

A client’s goal is usually to secure the “Decree Absolute”, the paperwork which comes at the final stage of divorce.  There is no reason why any married person could not get a Decree Absolute within about 4 months of submitting a divorce petition, whether their spouse agrees to it or not.

The lawyer’s goal is to protect their client’s future financial position – and this involves submitting a permanent financial arrangement for the approval of a judge, by way of a “minutes of consent” document.

You can get divorced without sorting out the finances, but as family lawyers will tell you, you are leaving yourself a potential headache for the future.

In a case released from the Court of Appeal on Wednesday this week, a couple married for three years and lived a “New Age lifestyle”, with neither assets nor income to their name.  When their Decree Absolute came through, neither party had a bean.  Nineteen years later, the former husband, Mr Vince, had come up with an excellent business idea, as a result of building a wind turbine to generate power for his caravan.  £90 million turnover later and his former wife, Mrs Wyatt, was knocking on the door of the High Court, asking for a £125,000 fighting fund, which they agreed she should have.  Although the case was knocked out by the Court of Appeal this week – she waited too long, she has no claim – Mr Vince could have saved himself the huge legal bills which the case will have involved by finalising the financial paperwork at the time.

After you marry someone, your ex-spouse can claim against you, and you can claim against your ex-spouse, until those rights are dismissed by the court.   Whilst the court may agree that your ex-spouse is not entitled to a share of your assets or income, you are going to be paying your lawyer to argue that point for you.  So once you get your Decree Absolute, make sure that the court receives a clean break consent order from your lawyers, dismissing your claims against each other, or setting out the financial deal you have agreed upon.  It may be tempting to leave things to fate, and hope everything works out, but that could be the most expensive decision you ever make.  Who knows what the future holds?

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You can call us on 01908 904064 or email:  hello@rainscourt.com for confidential family law advice or to arrange a meeting at our office in central Milton Keynes.

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