Head of Family Law at Howes Percival, Justine Flack highlights four things you should consider when divorce proceedings come to an end.
Decree Absolute - is that the end?
You have you received your Decree Absolute and so the divorce proceedings are at an end. This may bring a sense of relief and your focus is probably now upon the future. However, it is worthwhile pausing to check a few things and make sure everything is in order.
A review of the following four things is recommended-
1. Have you obtained a financial remedy order? The Decree Absolute ends the marriage but it does not terminate the financial claims which you and your former spouse have against one another. Unless an order is obtained claims remain open and you could find yourself the subject of proceedings a number of years in the future. If a solicitor helped you with your divorce then they have probably also ensured that you have a financial order. However, many people are dealing with the divorce themselves on line and may overlook the need for a financial order. Even if you have agreed the financial split with your former spouse and divided assets between you, you still need an order for true finality and to end claims.
2. Has the financial order been fully implemented? Make sure that all payments have been made, property transferred and accounts closed in accordance with the terms of the order. It is often easier to resolve matters now than months or years down the line when issues come to light. If a pension sharing order was granted, it is important that the administrators of the scheme have been served and you may need financial advice to deal with the pension credit. Should any elements of the order not have been implemented then you may need to take enforcement action and receipt of the Decree Absolute allows you to do so.
3. Do you have an up to date Will? If you have no Will you will die intestate and therefore have no control over what happens to your estate. If you made a Will when you were married and have not updated it the Will remains valid but any gift to your former spouse will fail as they will be treated as having died before you. This may create a partial intestacy. This is a good time to review your Will to make sure that it is up to date and your estate will be distributed between beneficiaries as you would wish. Please also remember that if you re-marry in the future that will revoke any existing Will and so you should review matters and put a new Will in place at that point.
4. Have you updated any nominations? People often have nominations in place for things like death in service benefit. You should check that your nominations are up to date which might mean replacing the nomination which was made for the benefit of your former spouse or alternatively, confirming that you still wish them to benefit. This may be the case if you are paying maintenance for children and your death might create financial hardship for your former spouse. You may need to remember to alter your nomination once you are past the point of paying child maintenance but don't forget the importance of a nomination.
The Decree Absolute is important for finalising the end of the relationship between yourself and your former spouse but don't overlook other associated issues which are also important and could prove costly if not dealt with at this time.
A leading commercial law firm whose clients range from individuals and families to global businesses and government departments.