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Why the Financial Settlement is Just as Important as the Divorce Itself

It’s a common misconception that when a marriage ends the decree absolute will bring to a close the financial relationship between the couple.  This is not the case as in the UK there’s no statutory time limit for bringing an application for a financial settlement upon divorce.

When entering into a marriage both spouses have claims against each other in respect of income, capital and pension.  When going through a divorce, you have to provide a ‘full and frank’ financial disclosure that details all your financial assets. 

Reaching a fair settlement relies on both parties being honest about their earnings, investments and outgoings.  And there are penalties for those who aren’t.  If a spouse hasn’t complied with their duty of disclosure the court may take this into account when making their final order.

However, a delay could well impact on the level of the award so it’s always prudent to obtain a financial settlement at the time of your divorce to avoid future uncertainties.

The case of Wyatt v Vince highlights the potential implications of not pursuing a clean financial break at the time of divorce.  Ms Wyatt chose to make a financial application against Mr Vince 19 years after their divorce.  The relationship had broken down some 31 years prior to the court hearing the application and Mr Vince had since built an impressive business empire.  However, the former spouses became involved in a drawn out and expensive litigation case, finally reaching an agreement which was approved by the court where Ms Wyatt received £300,000.00 of her ex-husband’s assets. 

Often, separated couples will try to reach an agreement between themselves.  If this is unsuccessful or not an option there are a number of different routes available to couples trying to decide how to divide assets, ranging from mediation to court proceedings.

However, couples should be aware that some agreements may not be legally binding and the family courts has jurisdiction to override them.  Therefore it’s important to seek expert advice from a matrimonial lawyer when reaching a financial settlement.

If you were divorced a number of years ago without a court order then we can advise you in relation to any financial claim that may still be open.  If you would like specialist advice from a family lawyer please contact Slater and Gordon on 0808 175 7710 and we’ll be happy to help.

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