Divorcing couples face smoother proceedings but more confusion
Divorcing couples are facing financial risk because of the potential confusion around new divorce laws. The new law, introduced this year, aims to make divorce more amicable but has potentially led to thousands of divorcing couples to not seek a financial order.
UK divorce solicitors, Woolley & Co. Solicitors, have assessed recently released family court data from April to June 2022 to see how no fault divorce has affected the picture. It revealed that there have been 33,234 divorce applications since no-fault divorce was introduced – the highest quarterly figure in 10 years. Out of these applications, over 1 in 5 divorcees made a joint application, taking advantage of new laws.
However, coupled with this were some surprising revelations surrounding financial protection. During the second quarter of 2022, just 9,235 financial remedy applications were made. In the same quarter in 2021, 13,404 applications were made, which shows a significant 31% decrease compared to a year ago.
Stats like these are particularly concerning. They indicate that many divorcing couples may be misunderstanding the necessity to protect their financial position, even during an amicable divorce. Their assets are now left at risk without financial orders in place.
When getting divorced, couples have the opportunity to apply for a financial order, a legal document that outlines a financial agreement between the divorcing parties. It’s commonplace for a financial order to include a clean break clause, meaning that the ex spouses are not permitted to raise financial claims against one another in the future.
The absence of a financial order, and a clean break clause, puts individuals at risk of financial issues and disputes. Without financial remedies there is nothing preventing either spouse from making a claim against assets from their ex-partner at a future date or requesting financial support.
On April 6th 2022, so called no-fault divorce was introduced in England and Wales. It was intended to provide divorcing couples with a more amicable divorce process, through removing the need for blame and allowing for joint applications. However, the 31% decrease in financial remedy applications since Q2 last year suggests that allowing couples to choose more amicable processes may be encouraging couples to start legal processes without first taking legal advice.
Individuals and couples may have mistakenly assumed that getting a divorce under the new rules means that their finances are protected. In fact, it remains incredibly important that those who are applying for a divorce also apply for a financial order. The process is necessary to legally establish entitlement to property, assets, and savings, and to sever any financial ties between the divorcing parties.
Andrew Woolley, Founder and Senior Partner at Woolley & Co. Solicitors, has expressed concerns about these figures. He said: “We always knew the new no fault divorce laws would change the landscape of UK divorce, but we did not anticipate such dramatic figures so soon after the fact. It’s concerning to see the apparent fall in the number of couples protecting their finances when they divorce. It suggests many UK citizens may be misinformed about how protected they are under the new divorce laws, and are becoming complacent because of it.
“Couples who are making joint divorce applications must be aware that they do not offer automatic financial protection nor guarantee the absence of financial disputes. Divorcing couples and those dissolving civil partnerships should always seek advice about their financial rights and take the necessary precautions to protect their financial position for the future.”
The team encourage those who are seeking a divorce to apply for a financial consent order, whether the divorce is amicable or not. Those who do not do so may find they are liable to face financial repercussions later down the line. Please get in touch with the expert divorce solicitors at Woolley & Co if you wish to obtain a divorce financial order, and to draw up a clean break, to ensure financial protection. Get in touch on 0800 321 3832 to discuss your case and find out how we can help.