When couples decide to separate, important considerations go beyond simply filing for divorce. People often assume ending a marriage severs financial ties. In reality, this isn’t the case.
(For this article, we’ll discuss divorce primarily, but it applies equally to dissolution). Initiating a divorce, and obtaining a Decree Absolute legally ends the marriage, but financial ties persist until formal agreements, approved by the court, are in place. This aspect needs careful thought to prevent future financial claims.
To divorce, one must prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. After divorce, financial ties remain until a Clean Break Consent Order formalizes them.
So, how to sever these ties?
When couples end their relationship, they must seek advice on legal implications. Regarding finances, both parties must openly disclose their situations, called “Disclosure of Information”. This involves sharing financial documents, often through solicitors, to determine the extent of matrimonial assets extent before dividing them. It’s a complex process, considering property, investments, savings, pensions and spousal maintenance.
When the court divides assets, they consider factors like marriage duration, age, needs, living standards and children’s welfare. With guidance, the goal is to agree on severing financial ties and draft a Consent Order for court approval.
Without formalised financial arrangements, claims can linger even after the Decree Absolute. Parties might change their minds, especially if circumstances shift. Without a court order, defending claims is possible.
Financial ties fully sever only after divorce proceedings. A Decree Nisi, under current law, is necessary before presenting an agreement for court approval. Couples without a divorce should consider a Separation Agreement, not as binding as a Consent Order.