Why it is important to have a Financial Order on Divorce.
Divorce Law has been prominent in the news recently. First of all with Mrs Wright in the case of Wright v Wright being told that she must work and then yesterday, with the ruling in Wyatt v Vince in the Supreme Court whereby the Court found that Wyatt could still pursue her financial claims against Mr Vince, despite the fact that they had separated in 1984 and finally divorced in 1991.
In this remarkable case, the Supreme Court ruled that Kathleen Wyatt could still bring a financial claim against Mr Vince under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, because at the time of their Divorce they did not enter into a financial agreement which dismissed their respective financial claims against each other.
In the absence of a Financial Order, either party is at liberty to apply, at any time, for financial provision against the other, even twenty four years later.
Whilst the Supreme Court ruled that Wyatt could bring her claim, they were not encouraging as to her prospects of success at trial, given the length of time which has elapsed. The reality is, however, that a claim for financial provision will necessitate Mr Vince having to incur further legal costs and he may, therefore, be advised to pay Ms Wyatt a lump sum, simply to bring these proceedings to an end.
It is for this reason that you are always advised to have a Consent Order prepared when you divorce, even in the most straightforward of cases. It is important to ensure that the Court makes an order confirming that you will each have no further claims against each other or the Estate of the two of you.
The Consent Order should be prepared by solicitors. Ideally you and your spouse would reach an agreement between you as to what will happen with the finances (even if nothing is to happen) and your solicitors will then prepare a Financial Agreement. This will be submitted to Court together with a brief document setting out your financial position. The proposed agreement is then passed to a Judge who will consider whether it is fair and reasonable. If he considers it to be fair, then he will approve the Proposed Order and it becomes binding and irrevocable.
Had Mr Vince and Mrs Wyatt had such an agreement in place at the time of their Divorce, Ms Wyatt would never have been permitted to even bring the claim against Mr Vince.
Rachel Watson 12th March 2015