Advice & Information

A Decree Absolute is not the absolute end

Date: August 02, 2019 by idu-net

UK law regards the actual divorce itself to be the main issue and resolving the financial aspects is considered “ancillary” to that. In reality of course, the main dispute in any divorce is usually over the question of the division of assets and income.  However, most people would assume that the grant of a Decree Absolute draws a line under any financial obligations or commitments divorced couples have towards each other.  That is a mistaken assumption.


Decree Absolute does not end financial ties

Although the Decree Absolute does mean you are no longer in a legal contract and legally ends the marriage in England and Wales, it does not end the financial ties between the divorced parties.

Your ex-partner can make a claim on your financial assets at any point in the future, even if you acquired the money after your relationship legally ended.  There is no time limit in place, so a claim could be made at any time, often years after the divorce itself.

Often this happens because an ex-spouse feels the divorce was rushed through at the time, and in hindsight they consider that the financial settlement was not actually fair and their ex-spouse should have made more of a financial contribution.

Perhaps the ex-husband or wife acquires a considerable amount of money after the divorce, frequently through an inheritance, so the temptation to make a claim for a share of this new found wealth – especially if one partner has been left to raise children as a single parent – is great.


Consent Orders and Clean Break Orders

The only way to avoid a financial claim being made against you in future after divorce is to obtain a Court Order in the form of either a Consent Order or a Clean Break Order.  To some extent, these have the same intention as a Pre-Nuptial agreement, although they do carry more legal weight than a Pre-Nup which, for the present at least, is not as legally binding as a Consent or Clean Break order.


Ancillary relief

To obtain a Consent or Clean Break order both parties have to provide full financial disclosure, which is usually no problem in amicable separations (although arguably it is difficult to be truly “amicable” in a divorce).  If the divorce is contentious however, the other party may not be prepared to disclose their finances or sign an order, in which case it will be necessary to go to court to make an application for Ancillary Relief.  If agreement on financial issues cannot be reached until after the Decree Absolute, it is essential that a spouse wishing to remarry so should issue an Ancillary Relief application before re-marrying,


If you are going through divorce or relationship breakdown, visit the IDU Legal website or call the FREE legal helpline on 0333 305 4357 to get a direct link to expert family law solicitors who can give you advice and assistance.