The national charity Age UK announced on 13th September 2018 that thousands of women who go through divorce are being inadequately provided for in retirement. This is due to the fact that they were not aware at the time of the divorce proceedings that they had a legal entitlement to make a claim against any private pension funds that their husband had paid into during the course of the marriage. Had they sought legal advice, they would have been made aware of their entitlement in this respect and more often than not, the benefit of a pension sharing order is far greater than the costs of seeking legal advice.
Divorcing couples need to be aware of the importance of obtaining a Financial Remedy Order before applying for the decree absolute.
An example of this can be seen in the case of Wyatt v Vince  UKSC. The parties had been divorced for several years and the husband went on to accrue considerable assets which he thought were safe from any claim by his ex-wife. As the parties did not have any assets at the time of the divorce and did not seek legal advice, they overlooked the need to secure a financial clean break from each other. This is an oversight that cost the husband dearly as his long since ex-wife did eventually seek legal advice and made an application to the court for a share of the wealth he had accrued after the divorce. Her application was successful.
Due to the withdrawal of public funding (better known by many as legal aid) for the majority of divorces, couples are unwilling or unable to spend money on seeking legal advice. However in most cases there are ways of meeting solicitor’s costs and a good family solicitor will be more than happy to spend time explaining the options as to how legal fees can be met.
Although the Government encourages parties to act in person, the benefits of obtaining legal advice as to the financial implications of your divorce cannot be overlooked. If you choose to embark on a DIY divorce and have little or no knowledge of the legal system, how can you make a decision regarding the division of assets without knowing the principles a court would use when dividing matrimonial assets.
Whatever your financial situation, you would be well advised to seek legal advice to ensure that your financial future is protected following the dissolution of marriage.
If you would like any additional information regarding this article please contact a member of QualitySolicitors Parkinson Wright's family team on 01905 721600.