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Don't fall into the remarriage trap

In their fortnightly column, solicitors Mossop & Bowser, of Holbeach, discuss matrimonial finances.

Many people are unaware that by simply divorcing their husband/wife without resolving matrimonial finances before remarrying they may be falling into a financial trap.

Before finalising a divorce it is important to resolve matrimonial finances between the parties by creating a financial agreement by way of a Consent Order.

If one party decides to remarry without a Consent Order being in place it may cause serious implications for that party.

If you do remarry in line with the Matrimonial Causes Act then subsequently you will be barred from applying for a lump sum, property adjustment or spousal maintenance order against your former spouse.

This is what is known as the ‘remarriage trap’. The implications can be adverse.

The remarried party can be unable to make a claim against any assets that they previously would have had a right to before they remarried. It is therefore essential that you takes steps to avoid falling into the remarriage trap.

A leading case study gives a chilling reminder of the dangers that the remarriage trap can pose. In a 2008 case the parties reached a negotiated agreement in which the wife, who held the bulk of the wealth in the marriage, was to pay the husband a lump sum of £250,000.

Upon concluding the agreement, the husband’s solicitors filed a Consent Order with the court for approval. However, this was done three days after the husband had remarried.

The husband asked the court to approve the Consent Order in any event, but the court refused. Under the existing law in England and Wales, the Court did not have the jurisdiction to make the order. As a result, the Consent Order could not be approved and the wife was not required to pay the husband any money.

The above example is a very clear example of how important it is to resolve matrimonial finances before remarry.

If you do need assistance in relation to finalising a financial agreement by way of a Consent Order, contact our family department on 01406 422651.

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