One of the mistakes I often see during divorce is clients wanting to settle the financial situation without consulting a solicitor. They believe (incorrectly) that a solicitor will automatically want a long drawn out court case and that solicitor fees will rocket.
Yes, of course if you instruct a solicitor your legal fees are going to be greater than if you had negotiated between yourselves. But what you don’t know is what is a fair settlement for your circumstances. You may agree to a settlement with your spouse which in fact a solicitor will tell you is less than they would suggest appropriate.
The other important thing to know is that, even after you are divorced, either party can come back to make a financial claim against the other, until the rights are dismissed by a court order. Until you have a Consent Order your finances have been deemed to not yet be finalised, and either party can return to court to reopen discussions at a later date. This right exists without any time limit.
Nowhere is this more apparent than the recent case of Kathleen Wyatt and Dale Vince.
The couple divorced over 20 years ago, at a time when they were living a New Age traveller lifestyle. They had a son, who was brought up by his mother.
Several years later Mr Vince started a company which has now significantly increased his worth. In fact he is said to be worth £107 million. Ms Wyatt went to Court to seek payment from Mr Vince. The Supreme Court have ruled this case can go to the family court.
A similar situation could also arise if you were to come in to a sizeable inheritance in the future or even a lottery win. If there is no Court Order in place your ex-spouse can come back and request to re-negotiate the divorce settlement based on current circumstances.
The only way to avoid such claims (even if you currently have no money) is to obtain a court order, where you will both agree there will be no further financial claims.