One of the main concerns of couples who are getting divorced, is the finances. Typically both parties will want to make sure that an agreement is in place that is fair and workable and that gives each of them a degree of financial security.
Where the assets are straightforward couples can sometimes reach an agreement between themselves, but problems can occur much further down the line if their agreement has not been approved by the Court at the time of the divorce. This problem can also arise where the parties have reached no agreement at all but have just continued to maintain the status quo with their finances. In either scenario, in the absence of a final Financial Order from the Court, it is likely to be possible for the ex-husband or ex-wife to make an application to the Court for financial relief.
Technically, until the Court has made a final Financial Order, the financial claims each party has against the other, are still live and so either person can apply for those claims to be considered. There is no time limit to making such a claim and so the unwary could be surprised by an application for financial relief from their ex-spouse many years after the divorce.
According to recent research published by the law firm Hugh James, the number of applications for financial relief which were made after the divorce had been finalised was at a low of 3,617 in 2011 but has since been rising each year and in 2014 reached 29,057. These figures are concerning as they show that many couples who have already divorced and may have moved on with their lives believing that their financial matters had been settled, are now facing Court applications.
The fact that matters may have been agreed, will not prevent the Court from considering the application and any post-separation assets and even inheritance can be taken into account by the Court when determining what Financial Order to make.
A Court Order offers a binding and enforceable conclusion to the marital finances, which protects both parties and provides certainty for the future. The importance of obtaining a final Financial Order from the Court at the time of divorce therefore cannot be overstated.