I've just found this site and have been reading some of the threads with interest, most are leading to me to wonder if i have been rather naive...
I left my husband after 6 years of marriage and am a couple of weeks away from a Decree Nisi. I applied for the divorce after a 2 year separation and my husband has not contested it. We are not using solicitors and have worked everything out by ourselves reasonably amicably. We have no children and did not own our own home, so all we did was split our savings equally and divided our belongings. That is all. Salary wise, he was much better off than me but i did not want anything further from him. When we met i was in the better financial position and supported him whilst he built his career.
Since leaving my husband i have bought my own home in which i have around £25k equity, i also have a final salary pension and have equalled his salary. I am now in a new relationship and pregnant with my first child so naturally wish to make my life secure.
In doing the divorce myself and only having verbal agreements, am i leaving myself open to any future claims?
First point is that you and your husband seem to be approaching this matter in a sensible way. It is always far better to sort your financial affairs by agreement if you can. It saves a good deal of potential acrimony and avoids legal disputes, which, as you've probably gathered from reading various posts, can be expensive.
My understanding of the position is that, if you wish to make a claim against your husband, you have to do it now. Otherwise you may lose what rights you have if there is a change of circumstances in the future.
Secondly, it is usually considered advisable to formalise your agreement by what is called a ' Consent Order '. What happens is that each of you sends to the Court a summary of your finances. You also send a draft of the order which you would like the Court to make. Provided the Court is saisfied the agreement is a fair one, it will make the order in the terms applied for and you don't have to go to Court, it's all done by correspondence. I have done this myself ( through solicitors ) but it isn't complicated or expensive. Then your order is legally binding and you go your separate ways without any further claims against each other.
I would see a solicitor but you shouldn't have to pay too much for getting such an order.
Thank you for replying so quickly and for your advice.
I have no wish to make any claim against my husband either now or in the future. I am slightly more worried that at some point he might decide to make a claim against me. At the moment i do trust him and can see no reason why he would, i just want to ensure my future is secure and that this chapter is closed.
I will certainly look into formalising the agreement, but feel that this might be an antagonistic step especially as we have got this far without too many problems.
If i decided to leave things as they are, do you happen to know if there would be a time limit on any claims against me?
The first thing I would need to know is whether either of you made any claim for financial relief against the other as part of the divorce process.
If you did - and that claim is not dealt with or dismissed - then my understanding of the position is that the claim can be resurrected later. Any substantial delay will undoubtedly be prejudicial to the case of the one seeking to re-open it.
Sarah, I am sure the bomb proof advice is to get a Consent Order. Normally, if I can't be sure about whether my advice is right, I will normally not advise at all ; sometimes no advice is better than wrong advice. I have to tell you that I am not sure, and in your case it should be possible to dispose of the matter quickly and at little or no cost by seeking a solicitor who will give 30 minutes free advice. If you want to dispense with a consent order I would advise you to take proper legal advice as to the potential risks.
Mike is right, you have to get a Consent Order and finalise things, once and for all, its a bit like cases where people dont want to bring up the subject of prenuptial agreements (because it causes feelings of well everyone knows what! feelings of if you loved me then why ask for that because we are never going to get divorced" i love you blah blah)
The trouble is i know that you may think it will cause conflict now but if you do not get this piece of paper with a Judges stamp on it, there is ALWAYS the possibility of comeback and there are no time limits. (I know that after say 20 years it will be hard for someone but it is NOT impossible!) and then you will be fighting through the courts, sometimes for years. I dont want to keep repeating myself on here but my husband and his ex wife made a verbal agreement some 5 years ago when they divorced) because they never got it in writing and it was never stamped by a Judge, she made a claim two years later and we have been fighting it for nearly 3 years now.
Please seek advice or even whatever you and your ex decide get it written into the form of a Consent Order and get a judge to stamp it....you could always turn it round on your partner and say "its best we do this, what happens if you win the lottery honey? i can make a claim against you in years to come! LOL i think he may just sign ANYTHING put to him like that!
Please seek advice i think you will find you are given the same answer as Mike has given you.
Thank you both for excellent advice. I managed to read this at lunchtime and this afternoon emailed my husband to suggest we do this, thankfully he also thinks it is a good idea, which is a relief.
After checking the petition, i noticed i had crossed through the section about ancillary relief as we had sorted everything out when we separated two years ago. I think i will now contact a solicitor to finalise it once and for all.
Just one thought though, will this be hindered by the fact he has moved abroad? Or should i be able to sort this with just my own solicitor and send him the papers etc to sign?
One thing I can tell you from fact, is, if you were the petitioner in the divorce and you crossed out the prayer (i think its called) i.e. the ancilliary relief part, it does not matter at all, if your husband were to make a claim against you in later life, if he never received legal advice at the time! He can still make a claim against you at any time in the future. If it was him who divorced you and crossed them out then its another thing! (But still not impossible) This is why you must, get a Consent Order drawn up. Especially if you didnt have legal advice at the time! Its an arguement people use later on "OH, the "verbal agreement should not stand" I never had legal advice at the time! and the Judge will accept this as a defence as to why the verbal agreement should not stand! Its the one thing and only thing that can truly end the finances between parties. (a consent order, because its made between you both and has to be signed by you both to show you agree, even if you dont use a solicitor to draw one up and you do it yourself it still has to go in front of a judge who will order you both to court (if he thinks its necessary) and he will make sure you both agree it and its fair to both sides, before he/she will stamp it! To do a consent order yourselves costs £40 to have a solicitor do it for you will cost min £140 plus....