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Divorce: it’s more than just filling in the divorce petition

Divorce: it’s more than just filling in the divorce petition

The first step in getting divorcedinvolves submitting a divorce petition to the Court which can appear to be a very simple document in its new tick box format. You may even question the need for a solicitor to prepare the divorce petition for you especially when everything seems to be agreed with your spouse. However, do you understand the significance of sections 10.1 and 11.3 of the divorce petition which ask whether you want to apply for a financial order?

You and your spouse have the right to make financial claims against each other as a result of the divorce. This covers property adjustment orders, lump sum orders, spousal maintenance orders and pension sharing orders. You may have come to an agreement with your spouse about the finances and think that you do not need to do anything further other than to issue the divorce petition. Alternatively, you may think that this is not relevant to you because there are no real assets of the marriage. However, your spouse’s right to make a financial claim against you (and vice versa) can usually only be brought to an end by a Court Order. If no Court Order is made the claims which each of you have against each other will remain open. This means that an application for a financial order could be made at a future date which is something that you may want to avoid.

If neither of you intend to make a financial claim,it is a good idea to obtain a Court Order dismissing your rights to make future claims against each other. This is often referred to as a ‘clean break’.  Alternatively, if you have already reached an agreement, it is a good idea to obtain a Court Order to confirm the terms of your agreement. This would be a legally binding settlement and would avoid any surprise future financial claims by your spouse.

You will fall into the ‘remarriage trap’ if you remarry before applying for a financial order or indicating your intention to do so on the divorce petition. This would result in you no longer being able to make a financial divorce claim against your spouse, however they may still be able to make a claim against you (unless of course they have fallen into the remarriage trap). It is therefore vital to resolve all financial claims in divorce by way of a Court Order before remarrying.

Applying for a financial order, including a clean break order, is a complex legal process and we recommend that you seek expert legal advice to ensure that you reach a fair and legally binding financial settlement.

If you need advice about your divorce and the financial claims arising from the divorce please get in touch with our First Contact team on 01256 320 555 or email mail@clarkeandson.co.uk.  We currently offer all new family law clients a complimentary 30-minute initial consultation or a full hour with written confirmation of advice for £50 + VAT.

Varinder Bhandal

Family Law Solicitor

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