“No-fault divorce/dissolution”- should the application for Final Order be delayed?
For those couples who started their application for divorce/dissolution of their civil partnership when the no fault provisions came into effect on 6 April 2022, they will very shortly be able to apply for their Final Order and end their marriage/civil partnership. This is a significant legal step that should be carefully considered, so are there any circumstances where applying for the Final Order should be delayed?
For most couples, before applying for their Final Order they will want to make sure that all financial matters have been agreed. This is not only pragmatic but it also significantly reduces the risk of either person being financially disadvantaged when the Final Order is made. If financial matters are not resolved before the Final Order is made, this can lead to real challenges. This is especially true if a large period of time passes between the Final Order being made and a couple discussing their finances, as their respective financial positions could have changed beyond all recognition. When this happens, the scope for couples to disagree on the approach to financial matters increases, particularly in relation to any assets accrued since their separation or how significant increases in the value of their assets that have happened since their separation should be dealt with.
One of the difficulties with the no fault system is that it is entirely separate from any and all other matters associated with the couples’ separation. As a result, it may well come as a shock to some that they need to deal with their financial matters in addition to the divorce/dissolution itself. This is the case even if the couple agrees to each keep their own assets and not to make any financial claims against the assets owned by the other or for ongoing financial support through maintenance.
Perhaps more fundamentally, however, if financial matters are not resolved before a Final Order is made this can put an individual in a position of real financial hardship, if their ex-spouse/civil partner were to, sadly die. In this instance, as the Final Order has been made, the survivor will no longer be a spouse/civil partner at the time of death and therefore, will simply not be entitled to any widow/widower benefits under pensions, life insurance policies, endowment policies, death in service benefits, etc. This can result in significant financial resources being entirely lost.
In light of this we would encourage everyone considering their applications for Final Orders to either ensure that financial arrangements are finalised first or that they obtain specific legal advice about the implications of a Final Order on their particular circumstances, so they can make an informed decision about what to do and when.
If you have any questions about the implications of applying for your Final Order then please contact a member of our specialist Family team who will be happy to assist you. For more information on the topics covered above, please visit the no fault divorce page of our website.