If I am divorced or my Civil Partnership has been dissolved, can my former partner still make a financial claim against me?Like many services during the recent pandemic, the Courts in England and Wales have joined others by moving their services online. The Courts have taken steps to move the divorce process online to replace paper-based divorce applications. Due to the simplified process, many individuals are now opting to undertake the divorce process without legal advice. Whilst a simplified process is a positive step, there are separate matters to be attended to as part of the process which, without advice, may be missed and could lead to difficulties in the future.

Does the final stage of the divorce (Decree Absolute) mean that all financial claims are closed?

What many people do not realise, is that divorcing your former partner or dissolving your Civil Partnership does not automatically close off their potential financial claims against your assets.

To dismiss any financial claims arising from your marriage or Civil Partnership, you also require a Court sealed document called a Financial Consent Order. This document must be agreed (or Court ordered) and signed by both yourself and your former partner, as well as being approved by a Judge.

Often, agreeing how to split the finances when there are various assets involved is not always the easiest of tasks. Typically, the process involves exchanging details of each parties’ financial positions either via some form of alternative dispute resolution or via a solicitor, and/or an application to the Court if an agreement cannot be reached.

What if there are no assets?

If there are no assets, you may think that there is no need for a Financial Consent Order. However, if there is no Financial Consent Order in place, your former partner may still an attempt to make a claim against you in the future. Therefore, even if there are no assets at the time of the divorce or dissolution of the Civil Partnership, a Financial Consent Order is still advisable, just in case your assets change in the future.

Further, it is often advised that proceedings are held at the first stage (the Decree Nisi stage for a divorce and a Conditional Order when dissolving a Civil Partnership), until such time as the finances have been dealt with and a Financial Consent Order sealed by the Court. This is because the final stage of the divorce/dissolution of Civil Partnership, may change your rights to certain assets. Therefore, even if you are choosing to deal with the divorce or dissolution of your Civil Partnership “in person”, it is prudent to obtain legal advice to ensure that you are aware of any current and future risks.