The Remarriage Trap – Before Sorting Out Finances From Earlier Marriage

It is a common misconception that when you go through divorce, the courts will automatically deal with your finances but that is not true. 

It is in fact possible to get divorced without the court ever making any orders or even being aware of the financial circumstances. 

In order to bring finality to any financial claims between you and your ex-spouse, you either agree a consent order which will be sealed by the Court or one of you must make a separate application to the court. 

You might be wondering what this has to do with your remarriage and therein lies the trap. 

If you are one of the handful of people that have gone through a divorce without dealing with the finances, then you will be barred from making any such application once you remarry. As a result, you might be losing the right to claim your fair share of the assets from your previous marriage.

Historical case law suggested that prolonged delays might reasonably allow a party to assume that there should be no further financial claims made against them, often relying on FPR 4.4 to strike out an application that had been subject to delay. In Vince v Wyatt [2013], the Court of Appeal used powers introduced by FPR 4.4 to strike out the wife’s application for financial orders, made 27 years after separation. The Supreme Court overturned the decision and allowed the wife’s application to proceed.

After decree absolute is pronounced, if either party subsequently remarries, that party cannot apply against their former spouse for a financial provision order or a property adjustment order. This is widely known as the “remarriage trap”. 

These barring orders include the ability for the court to order the transfer of property from one party to another and varying nuptial agreements for the benefit of either party. The right to apply for a pension sharing order is not lost on remarriage, as it is not included with the prohibition on applications for financial provision and property adjustment on remarriage.

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