Firstly, depending on if you applied for the Conditional Order (irrespective of who or both of you applied for the divorce), or not. If you did, you can apply for the Final Divorce Order six weeks and one day after the date of the Conditional Order. If you didn’t, you can apply three months afterwards, i.e., a total of four and a half months and one day after the date of the Conditional Order.
However, most people do not do so until after a financial settlement has been reached. This is due to when the Final Divorce Order being made, you and your spouse are divorced, and if one of you were to die, you would no longer be a widow(er).
Some couples when divorcing incorrectly believe that the divorce finalises all matters, including finances, and that they do not need to do anything further. The divorce only legally ends the marriage, it does not resolve any disputes regarding finances or arrangements for children. This would need to be resolved either with the assistance of family law experts, via out mediation or other alternatives to Court, or if this is not possible, within formal Court proceedings.
It is important to look at addressing the housing needs (making sure that the parties are housed adequately), income needs (that the reasonable outgoings and financial obligations are met), and the needs of the divorcing couple in retirement (pension and other estate planning). This is not a case of one size fits all approach, but will depend on the individual circumstances of you and your spouse and/or any children that you may both have.
Retirement may seem a long way away for some divorcing couples, and they may be more focused on meeting the immediate housing needs but even if there is an agreement that each spouse should retain their own accumulated pensions, they should still, as with all assets in divorce, get these valued and if necessary obtain a Pension Actuaries report on the true value of the schemes, as they can be difficult to do so on the face of it as they can have hidden benefits.
If finances are not dealt with at the time of the divorce, this does not mean that after a certain period of time any financial claims are automatically dismissed. This is demonstrated in the much-published case, at the time, of Wyatt v Vince  UKSC 14, where the Court Supreme Court stated that ‘every applicant for a financial remedy was entitled to a final hearing, even if that hearing might be very (and, we wonder, perhaps even vanishingly) short’. The cost of not dealing with a financial settlement, even where the parties’ assets at the time of their separation are modest, could mean a claim being brought by the former spouse many years or in this case decades later.
If you cannot reach an agreement and would like some advice to reach a financial settlement, we would be happy to speak to you. Please get in touch with our Family Law Team for specialist legal advice as soon as possible on 01255 320 555 or email: email@example.com.
Family Law Solicitor