LEGAL ISSUES AFTER A DIVORCE

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Although you may think that the legal side of your divorce is over and done with, there are still a few points to be considered after a divorce.

Changes to spousal and child maintenance 

Child maintenance and spouse maintenance can both be varied but it will only happen in very limited circumstances.

If there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as non-payment due to ill-health or unemployment, spouse maintenance will be reconsidered. The Judge will then vary the maintenance order by increasing, decreasing or cancelling the order. 

Child maintenance is generally governed by the Child Maintenance Service. If they are involved, and there has been a change of circumstances, they should be contacted and asked to review the situation.

Getting remarried

The previous marriage needs to have been legally dissolved before you can consider remarrying. There may be significant financial implications on your financial settlement if you are yet to obtain a financial order and decide to remarry.

Once you are remarried, you will not be able to apply to the Court for a property adjustment order, spouse maintenance order or a lump sum order from your ex-spouse.

It is therefore important you resolve your financial arrangement following the breakdown of your former marriage before remarrying.

Changes to a child arrangement order

Changes can be made to a child arrangement order if, for example, the children are much older, and the previous arrangements are no longer appropriate. If there are good and sound reasons to consider changing the terms of an order of the Court, in the first instance the parents of the children concerned should discuss the proposed changes between themselves.  

If an agreement cannot be reached, an application will be made to the Court to reconsider the order and what is in the best interests of the children.

Can my ex-spouse prevent me from relocating with my children?

If the primary carer wishes to relocate, the other parent has the right to try and stop the other from moving and can seek a Court order to prevent the other parent from relocating with the children. Both parents can try to reach an agreement between themselves. This avoids the need to take the matter to Court.

However, relocating the children, especially to a different country, will have a huge impact on the contact that one parent will have with them. If an agreement cannot be reached, an application to the Court will be necessary to relocate with the children. Alternatively, the parent that is opposing the relocation of the children can apply to the Court to prevent it.

The party that wants to relocate with the children will need to demonstrate that the move is positive for the children and that the new place will be suitable for them to live, that they will continue to attend school and also how they will maintain contact with the other parent.

Selling / Transferring the matrimonial home

Given the nature of a divorce, typically what would happen is that either the property is sold, and the assets are split between the parties, or one party decides to buy out the property from the other.

As such, you may potentially need to instruct surveyors, estate agents or property lawyers to assist you with selling your property on the open market. Alternatively, you may need lawyers to transfer the property you have bought from your spouse into your sole name/ remove them from the title deeds. 

Transferring part or whole pension pots

Where an order has been made in respect of the party’s pension pots, it may take a lot of follow up work to liaise with the pension providers once the consent order has been sealed. This can take approximately 3-6 months to transfer the pension sums owed from the date of notifying the provider. 

In addition, please be aware that due to the nature of most private pensions, the values can go up and down dependant on the market. As such, you may need to wait an additional period for the sums to go back in value, although it is never guaranteed that it will.

Similarly, you may need to speak with a financial adviser as to whether it is worth drawing down a pension immediately or having it reinvested. These conversations are important as you could be taxed heavily.  

Wills 

If you divorce, then your existing Will is not cancelled. However, the divorce does have the effect that your former spouse will no longer act as an Executor, nor inherit from your Will. 

If your former spouse was the main beneficiary of the estate, this will now not go to them but will fall into intestacy, which means your wishes may not be carried out as to who gets the estate. For these reasons, you might want to get a new Will.

Also, it is worthwhile bearing in mind that if you include say sons-in-law or daughters-in-law in your Will and your children divorce, your Will is not affected by that divorce. Therefore, any appointment of the in-laws as Executors and any gifts to the in-laws will remain in force until you change your Will.

For more advice on how a marriage or civil partnership, or a divorce or separation could affect your Will, then please contact our expert lawyers at Ansham White Solicitors.

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