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The best time to get divorced may well be yesterday!

Paul Rossiter
Posted by: Paul Rossiter Managing Director

The best time to get divorced may well be yesterday!

For Better or Worse

Getting divorced from the partner you planned to spend the rest of your life with is never easy. Often the decision itself is delayed as you try and work things out between yourselves. However, when an impasse is reached, and there seems no other option but to divorce, our advice would be to act quickly.

Psychologically and financially it can be the best course of action for all involved.

It goes without saying that on an emotional level, it’s a terrible time for all involved. However for this article, and to keep our focus on the practicalities of divorce, I am going to leave all the emotions right here, at this full stop a


For Richer or Poorer

I think it’s a fair comment to say that most of the post-marriage breakdown arguments and disagreements will take place over financial matters.

Whilst it’s always easier and more cost-effective to resolve any financial issues between yourselves, it is essential that you do so with a Financial Order from a court, which fully specifies the terms of your agreement.

Without such an order, the terms of your agreement may not be legally binding. As any agreement without a Financial Order cannot be enforced and can lead to additional financial claims being made against assets, as no break has been made official by a court of law. This is often the case when one party breaks an agreement, should the fortunes of the other significantly improve.


To Have and to Hold …onto!

It’s also never a good idea to start implementing any terms of any financial agreement without an official Order in place. It is remarkably common to hear of instances where one party gets everything they want before an official order is put in place, only to become very uncooperative about agreeing to a Financial Order from the court.

All of this leaves their ex-partner extremely exposed to future financial demands upon his or her estate.


Time is not on your side

As vital as a Financial Order is, a court cannot grant one until a Conditional Order has been made in the divorce application. The difficulty with this is, a Conditional Order cannot be applied for until 20 weeks have passed following the divorce application being issued by the court.

This 20-week period is an official point of Law, being passed by Parliament and introduced to the divorce proceeding in April 2022, so it can’t be circumnavigated.


To quote John Lennon

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. A lot can happen in 20 weeks and although this was probably intended to be a cooling-off period to help save marriages, it has also caused quite a lot of financial arguments.

Over the time it takes to obtain these various orders, life moves on and circumstances change – and our finances can be dramatically altered. Financially speaking, what is true today may not be true tomorrow.

Your divorce could take anything from 8 – 18 months, depending on how financially complex things get. During those months anything can happen to your or your ex-partner’s financial circumstances.

For example, financial changes in circumstance may occur, including:

  • Pay Rises / Salary Cuts
  • Pensions
  • Redundancy
  • Retirement
  • An Inheritance
  • A Lottery Win (yes it does happen)

Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list, it is here to get you thinking about what changes might occur that would affect any financial outcome if you delay divorcing and don’t obtain a legally binding Financial Order.


A Plan for the Pension

If there is an agreement to split a Pension, this can only be done with a Financial Order.

A Pension Sharing Order (as part of any agreed financial order) should also be expressed as a percentage of the existing pension fund. As it can’t simply state that there will be a fixed sum sharing of the pension in question.

This avoids any unfair fluctuations in the value of the pension pot. Making perfect sense, as the pension’s worth may rise or fall during the time the divorce takes to finalise.

It is seen to be much fairer that a percentage of the pension fund is agreed upon. That way, both parties can take advantage of any growth in funds, or both equally suffer any decline.


Until Death do you Part…. well 28 days at least!

As the implementation of the Pension Sharing Order can be many months after the order was first introduced, the pension split must occur within 4 months of the order and the Decree Absolute being served.

It’s usual for the decree absolute or final order to take place 28 days after the pension sharing order has been implemented. This delay deliberately occurs to avoid the risks associated with the pension holder dying before the order has a chance to come into effect.

As Pension Sharing Orders can only usually be implemented once the Decree Absolute / Final Order has been granted by the court, this could mean that any Pension Sharing Order will not get implemented until a further 5 months after that date.

So if you are considering a divorce, it’s essential that you get a Financial Order in place – and you do so without any delay. That way you won’t be suspending the implementation of any agreements, plus you won’t be exposed to future claims upon your assets, pension or estate.

At PSR Solicitors, we’re not insensible to the emotional turmoil a divorce brings with it. However, we are mindful that setting everything out properly from the very start can enormously reduce the stress and uncertainty that getting divorced creates.

We’ve built our reputation on having a different approach to things. A jargon-free, no-nonsense way of getting things done, that keeps the human condition at the centre of all we do.

If you have any questions regarding any points raised in this article or anything to do with divorce law in general, please get in touch. PSR Solicitors are genuinely here to help – whether you are an existing client of ours or not.

Whatever your questions, or enquiry, please contact Nia Edwards, who heads up our Private Client Team, she’ll be delighted to help you in any way she can.

Nia Edwards LLB (Hons)

Solicitor - Head of Private Client & Probate

I am Head of ‘Private Client’ at PSR Solicitors, based in our Chester office. I undertake various types of legal services such as Wills and Probate, Estate Administration, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Landlord & Tenant as well as Divorce and family matters.
Nia Edwards

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