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Many separating couples are under the impression that getting divorced breaks all financial ties. But in fact, it is possible for either former spouse to claim money from their ex many years after they got divorced.

We will look at how an ex can claim for money after a divorce, and what preventative measures can be taken to protect your financial future.

Can my ex-partner claim for money after divorce?

Former spouses can claim money from their ex many years (sometimes even decades) following the divorce. The only way to effectively sever financial ties is to put in place relevant legal agreements (ie a clean break consent order – see below) or if both parties get remarried.

Not only can an ex-wife or husband claim a portion of the money that existed within the marriage (eg if there were joint savings) – but, more importantly, they can also make a claim on future earnings or financial windfalls.

For example, in the case of Wyatt v Vince, future business success by one party meant that their former spouse could claim money many years after divorce – see below.

How long after divorce can my ex-wife make a financial claim against me?

There is no time limit on how long after a divorce financial claims can be made by one former spouse against the other. 

This significant legal precedent was established in the landmark case of Wyatt v Vince. The Supreme Court ruled that the former wife of a multimillionaire was able to claim money from her ex-husband nearly two decades after their divorce. The main facts of the case were as follows:

  • Dale Vince and Kathleen Wyatt were married in 1981.
  • During their marriage they were poor new age travellers living on benefits; there were hardly any significant assets to distribute upon their divorce. 
  • Dale and Katheleen separated in 1984 and were finally divorced in 1992.
  • After their divorce, Dale went into business and founded green energy supplier Ecotricity which led to him accumulating an estimated wealth in excess of £100 million. 
  • In 2010, 18 years after they got divorced, Kathleen lodged a claim for financial support; although it was initially blocked by the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court overturned this ruling and established the precedent that there is no time limit for ex-spouses to make financial claims against one another.

Can my ex-wife claim half my new house and other assets I’ve acquired after divorce?

The ‘matrimonial pot’ – which essentially comprises the collection of assets which need to be divided between a couple getting divorced – will normally be split 50:50.

However, as well as this initial principle of equality there is a separate one of fairness which can skew the equal division of assets (eg if any minor children are going to predominantly live with one parent, the other parent/spouse will often get a smaller percentage of overall assets).

It all comes down to the individual circumstances of the divorce.

In general, working out who gets what after a divorce will be resolved at the time of divorce with a financial settlement. However, in the absence of a clean break consent order this matter may need to be dealt with long after the divorce.

Can my ex-wife claim money if I remarry?

If an ex spouse has remarried, it will be difficult for them to claim money; remarriage serves to relinquish potential future claims by the person getting married – this is known as the ‘remarriage trap’.

But the remarriage trap only works one way. If one party remarries, their former spouse will still be able to make a financial claim against them (unless they have also remarried). In other words, financial ties are only severed if both parties remarry. 

How to protect yourself: clean break consent orders

Putting in place a clean break consent order (ie a consent order with a ‘clean break’ clause) is the best way of preventing an ex from claiming money after divorce.

It is used to make any financial settlement agreed upon divorce legally binding. Once it has been signed off by the court, it will come into force when the decree absolute has been issued (unless it has been created after the divorce, in which case it will take effect immediately).

How do you obtain a Clean Break Consent Order?

Many divorcing couples are often put off by the sheer cost that most high street solicitors charge for a clean break consent order. However, it doesn’t need to cost thousands. If you and your spouse can decide on how to split your assets then we can save you thousands without compromising on the service you receive.

We offer a managed clean break consent order service for just £299.

Start your Clean Break Consent Order Today

Clean beak consent orders are vital in divorce and prevent your ex-spouse being able to claim any current or future assets. 

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This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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