Wealthier post-divorce? Protect your assets: Read this now

Businessman hiding money (divorce financial consent order)

Why read on?

Did you know that your ex-partner can continue to get money from you even after you’ve split? Seem unfair? Then, you need to put a financial consent order in place!

Your divorce (or dissolution of your civil partnership) will be formally concluded with a final order or decree absolute, but unless you also have a financial consent order in place, you may be open to future claims from your former partner.

Claims might be prompted by a change in circumstances, for example, one partner developing a successful business or coming into money through inheritance, building up pension benefits or even winning the lottery. Without a financial consent order in place, you will not be protected against a claim on your financial assets, which can be made at any time.

What is a financial consent order?

This is a document that sets out the financial agreement between a divorcing couple or a couple dissolving a civil partnership. Essentially, it sets out how you divide your financial assets between you after your divorce.

A consent order can prevent a former spouse or civil partner from bringing a claim in the future and can sever financial ties (a clean break order). The contents of the consent order depend on the couple's financial circumstances and what they have agreed to. 

How do I get a financial consent order?

A couple can reach an agreement between themselves, whether directly, via mediation, or through solicitor-led negotiation. A solicitor(s) can help them turn the agreement into a formal consent order, which can then be sent to court for approval.

There is no need to go to court. The court’s role will be limited to reading through a copy of the financial consent order. Once a judge is satisfied that the agreement is drafted correctly and is fair to both parties, it will become binding as soon as your divorce/dissolution is finalised. 

For more information and a no-obligation discussion, please get in touch with Lisa Honey of Tees. 

Case study: Vince v Wyatt (2015)

The following case study outlines how, after an extreme change of circumstances for one of the parties, a claim was made on his assets many years after the degree absolute, illustrating that there is no time limit for these claims.

The couple married in December 1981 and had one child together. Ms Wyatt also had one child from her previous relationship, whom Mr Vince treated as his own throughout the relationship. The couple then separated in 1984 (although this date was disputed) and were granted their decree absolute in October 1992.  

Crucially, the couple did not enter into a formal agreement (consent order) about their finances when they separated. Ms Wyatt did not request Mr Wyatt's financial support at that time. Ms Wyatt brought the children up alone, in very strained financial circumstances. In 1995, Mr Vince formed the green energy business Ecoticity, which became incredibly successful, with the company being valued at about £57 million. Ms Wyatt had no such change in fortune, and her circumstances remained modest.

Ms Wyatt applied for financial provision in the form of a lump sum in 2011, 27 years after the couple initially separated. Mr Vince then applied to the court to strike out Ms Wyatt’s claim due to the length of time that had elapsed since the divorce. The case went to the Supreme Court, which determined that Ms Wyatt’s claim could proceed, notwithstanding the delay. This left the court to decide what, if anything, Ms Wyatt was entitled to.

Ultimately, an agreement was reached that Ms Wyatt would accept £300,000 in full and final settlement of all outstanding financial claims. While at the time of their divorce, the couple had no money or assets, so a financial consent order probably didn’t seem important, the court case, costs, and payment would have been avoided had a consent order been agreed upon.

We’re here to help

Our family and divorce lawyers are based in:

Cambridgeshire: Cambridge
EssexBrentwoodChelmsford, and Saffron Walden
HertfordshireBishop's Stortford and Royston

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales.

Chat to the Author, Lisa Honey

Senior Associate, Families and Divorce, Chelmsford office

Meet Lisa

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