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How Long After a Divorce Can You Claim Assets in the UK?

Posted: 7th August 2023
Written by: Emma Hartley - Family law team

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The legal and financial aspects surrounding the different stages of divorce, including how long after a divorce you can claim assets in the UK, should not be neglected. You could be entitled to additional financial assets that you may not be aware of.

You may be able to claim assets from your ex-spouse long after your divorce has been finalised if you didn’t make a legally-binding Financial Order and, conversely, your spouse may be able to claim financial assets from you.

We’re here to talk you through the ins and outs of what this means for you. With a dedication to helping countless clients, our expert solicitors can help guide you through what you need to know about financial settlements after divorce.

Do financial settlements after divorce have a time limit?

There is no time limit on financial claims after a divorce, which is why it is vital that you get a Financial Consent Order approved by a Court.

Even if it doesn’t feel important at the time – perhaps neither of you held significant assets at the time of the divorce – without a legally-binding agreement, your ex-spouse may be able to claim for assets you acquire years later.

What if my ex-spouse has remarried?

You can stop a potential claim from occurring if your ex-spouse has entered a second marriage.

The ‘remarriage trap’ essentially stops your first partner from making financial claims against you and vice versa, with the exception of pensions. This is the case if they or you think the claims are completely justifiable. However, to avoid reaching that point, you should ensure any financial agreements made between you and your ex-partner are fully, legally settled with a Financial Consent Order when your divorce is finalised.

How do I ensure an agreement is legally binding?

You should make a Financial Consent Order legally binding by firstly getting an experienced solicitor to help you draft it and lay out the financial terms of your and your spouse’s separation. This will then have to be approved by a family court judge to make it legally binding.

A case study of financial claims after decree absolute

Many people mistakenly believe that the entire process is concluded when the Decree Absolute is issued. However, a Decree Absolute does not finalise financial claims.

On 10th June 2016, a senior Judge, Mr Justice Cobb, ordered a lump sum pay-out in favour of Kathleen Wyatt, who brought a financial remedies claim 19 years after the making of the Decree Absolute against her husband, Mr Vince.

Mr Vince’s lifestyle and wealth had changed considerably since the divorce. He had become a successful businessman, owning a company with an estimated value of £57 million.

Mr Vince’s attempt to strike out Mrs Wyatt’s claim succeeded in the Court of Appeal. However, the Judgement was overturned by the Supreme Court, which allowed Mrs Wyatt’s application to continue.

In family law, there is no time limit to prevent a financial claim from being made if an order is not made at the time of the divorce.

Divorcees who do not have financial orders in place must review their situation. They may face claims based on assets and capital acquired after the divorce. Claims would be considered on current law instead of the law available at the time of the divorce.

Here at Newtons Solicitors, we know that negotiating a divorce financial settlement can be difficult to deal with, particularly if you are suffering emotionally. For this reason, our team of legal professionals are committed to support and advise clients with many years of experience in this field.

We can assist you in resolving financial matters following divorce and help you understand where you stand financially. If you want to access legal guidance, please don’t wait to contact us today.