Delay in dealing with the family finances

The court only makes financial orders if an application for an order has been made, usually either made as part of divorce proceeding (within the divorce petition) or by way of an application for financial remedy. Providing that an application to deal with the finances is not dismissed as part of the divorce proceedings, there is no time limit within which an application for financial remedy must be made, even following a substantial delay.

After a divorce is finalised, if either party remarries, that party cannot apply against their former spouse for a financial provision order or a property adjustment order. This is widely known as the “remarriage trap“. Such orders include transferring property from one party to another and varying nuptial agreements for the benefit of either party. The right to apply for a pension sharing order is not lost on remarriage, as it is not included with the prohibition on applications for financial provision and property adjustment on remarriage.

There is no time limit that prevents applications for financial orders many years after a divorce. However, the detrimental consequences of delay in applying for financial orders can be:

  • Extended hostility between the parties.
  • Increased costs.
  • Loss of relevant documents.
  • The court being unable to make an order that reflects the merits of the case.

Historical case law suggested that prolonged delays might reasonably allow a party to assume that there should be no further financial claims made against them, often relying on FPR 4.4 to strike out an application that had been subject to delay. In Vince v Wyatt [2013], the Court of Appeal used powers introduced by FPR 4.4 to strike out the wife’s application for financial orders, made 27 years after separation. The Supreme Court overturned the decision and allowed the wife’s application to proceed.

Serving London, Bedford, Northampton and the surrounding villages, our lawyers can help you with all your family law and separation matters.  If you want to speak to one of our specialist solicitors about your matrimonial finances or an impending second marriage on available orders, contact us on 01234 889777 or 0207 177 9777 and talk to us today.

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