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We divorced years ago: can I still make a claim for financial support?

How long can you expect to be able to claim financial support from your ex-spouse? Or them from you? Most people think that after a certain amount of time, an ex-spouse cannot just re-appear and ask for a financial settlement.  This has been recently examined in detail in court.

An ex-wife claimed money from her ex-husband, even though they had been separated for 25 years, divorced for 19. In the years since they separated, the husband had gone from being penniless, to owning a company worth £57million.  The husband argued it was too late to claim. The first series of court cases was examining that point and the court made it clear that there is no absolute time limit in making a financial claim. Unless you have an agreement sealed at court, or a court order, the other spouse can always bring a financial claim.

In this particular case, in the end, they reached an agreement which the Court later approved. The agreement gave £300,000 to the wife, plus she kept awards made earlier in the case of £325,000.

Why it is that after all these years of separation one party can still claim financially against the other? Unless your financial agreement is approved by a Court, it leaves the door open for the future with all the uncertainty that can bring.

So, even if you have no assets at the time you separate or divorce, you should still get an order or agreement approved even if it is just to state that neither spouse can claim against the other.

If you do have assets and agree how to split them, conclude your successful financial negotiations with a signed document. This is sent to the Court and approved.  This is in fact what happened in the end for the couple above.  Had they agreed 25 years earlier that neither would make a claim against the other, and had it approved by the court, it would have limited any future claims.

If you are separating and have successfully reached an agreement about splitting your finances, put it in writing and present it to Court for the Court’s approval.  Once this is approved and literally sealed by the Court, it is binding and can’t easily be re-opened in the future.

I advise many clients who have reached their own agreements on finance when they divorce. They only need advice and guidance to ensure the agreement they have already reached becomes binding.  At the other end of the scale, sometimes it is just not possible to reach an agreement particularly if one party is unreasonable, or dishonest about finances. In the end the court itself has to actually state how assets are to be divided in such a situation.

If there are any issues you would like to raise from reading this or any other articles, all of which are available on our website, please email me on [email protected]

Sarah Beskine
About Sarah Beskine (45 Articles)
I offer help and advice as a specialist in the field of family law whether you are seeking help with divorce, separation or conflicts regarding children’s disputes.