No Fault Divorce: Why You Still Need A Financial Order

A final order legally ends your marriage, but it does not sever the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse.

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By Victoria Richardson - 6th June 2022

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You still need to get a financial order when you divorce, even if you are using the new no fault divorce process. Otherwise, you do not have a ‘clean break’, meaning your ex-spouse could make a financial claim against you in the future.

No fault divorce and financial orders

No fault divorce has now been introduced in England and Wales, making it much easier to end a marriage. However, the new law does not remove the need for a divorce financial order. This is incredibly important, and it’s something that isn’t emphasised enough.

Not everyone realises that a final order (previously known as a decree absolute) legally ends your marriage, but it does not sever the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse. That is why you also need a financial order.

A financial order is a document which sets out the financial agreements between you and your ex. It is approved by the court, making it legally binding. It usually contains a ‘clean break’ clause. This prevents any future claims you may have against each other.

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What if we have already reached an agreement ourselves?

Some separating couples may agree on how to divide their finances without the help of any third party. However, it is important that any agreement is put in writing and approved by the court.

If the agreement is not in writing and approved by the court, there is nothing stopping one party from seeking a different settlement later down the line. Your ex-spouse is perfectly entitled to do this, unless you get a clean break order or your ex re-marries.

But we don’t have any assets to divide?

Solicitors often hear divorcing couples say that they have no real assets worth protecting. While this may be the case at the time of the divorce, it is still advisable to obtain a clean break order to remove the risk of a claim in the future.

Nobody knows what the future holds. If one person was to come into a large sum of money, there would be nothing to stop the person from making a claim against it without a clean break order.

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When should we apply for a financial order?

A financial order can only be approved upon receipt of decree nisi, now known as the conditional order. Under the old law, you would apply for decree nisi as soon as possible, after which proceedings would be placed on hold until the finances had been resolved. As there was no deadline to work towards, proceedings could be on hold for over 12 months.

The new no fault divorce procedure has changed so that an applicant cannot make an application for a conditional order until at least 20 weeks have passed from the date the application was issued. This time is given to encourage the parties to deal with their finances and ensure the process runs more smoothly.

Do you need help negotiating a financial order?

If you would like help with a financial order, please contact our divorce solicitors for a free initial enquiry.

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