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I've done my own Divorce. What now?

I have written last year, about the change to the Divorce Law, which was implemented on 6th April 2022. The change that many wanted, and that after years (possibly decades) of lobbying we now have.

I spent some time exploring how the change in the law has affected us in practical terms. By way of a recap:-

  1. You have to have been married for one year before applying.
  2. You make your application online.
  3. The procedure still has four stages; application, acknowledgements, Conditional Order (previously Decree Nisi), Final Order (previously Decree Absolute).
  4. The Court fee is still £593
  5. It still takes around 9 months to complete, from start to finish (with no hiccups or unforeseen delays)
  6.  At the end of the process, your marriage is legally dissolved.

The key changes were:

  1. You no longer need to rely on the fault of one party or another.
  2. You no longer need to have been separated a specific amount of time.
  3. You have to wait 20 weeks after your application is issued before you can apply for Conditional Order.
  4. The scope to dispute the application is now significantly narrowed and can only be made on very limited grounds to include jurisdiction and the validity of the marriage.

However, something I am seeing people overlook in the wake of a seemingly “easier” divorce system is their financial matters. People simply are forgetting that, even where they have agreed how finances should be resolved, or don’t feel they have anything to divide, that without an Order a claim could still be brought against them later down the line.

I first saw this happen as a Trainee Solicitor; the parties had been divorced for 30 years, and both thought they had reached agreement when they separated… but their recollection of that agreement was very different from one another. Thirty years after Decree Absolute, we found ourselves in Proceedings.

Resolving Finances

If you have been married, even if you have nothing now, a claim can pop up from your ex-spouse at almost any point in the future. I often use the example of winning the lottery, receiving a large inheritance or eventual sale of a business which turns out to be rather more lucrative than you anticipated upon separation. Even if your ex-partner’s claim may ultimately be unsuccessful, they can still bring one, and with that comes Court, stress and cost.

As such, it is a timely reminder that even where divorce proceedings have become simple to pursue, no matter your financial circumstances at the time of your divorce, you will benefit from an Order settling your financial claims flowing from your marriage and divorce – agreed if possible – that sets out what you intend to happen and ultimately, that no further claims can ever be brought in the future either against you in life, or your estate after you die.

The cost of having an Order prepared on a consensual basis is likely to be just a tenth of what you might otherwise spend on Court Proceedings, if you end up receiving an unexpected Application for a Financial Remedy Order from your ex at some point in your future.

If you have done or are doing your divorce yourself and have not spoken to anyone about your matrimonial finances, please contact a member of our Family Team. We are ready and able to assist.