Reaching a Financial Settlement After Decree Absolute

As experts in family law, Higgins Miller are used to dealing with issues regarding divorce, child custody, adoption and special guardianship. What these things all have in common is that they combine complex legal issues with high levels of emotional stress. The same, of course, is true of divorce when a marriage or civil partnership has come to an end, and the aspect which causes more stress than anything else is the separating of finances. This is particularly true if a client comes to us wanting to draw up a financial settlement after decree absolute.

The decree absolute marks the point at which a divorce becomes final and the marriage is officially over. In the majority of cases, we would advise that clients reach a financial settlement agreement before the divorce becomes final. A court order formalising a financial agreement can’t be made until after the decree nisi has been made and the provisions set out in the agreement won’t come into force until after the decree absolute. Sometimes, however, perhaps because one partner has refused to cooperate, or because the finances of a couple are particularly complex, it becomes necessary to reach a financial settlement after decree absolute.

In the majority of cases, the fact that the decree absolute has been granted won’t affect the way the finances are agreed following a divorce. In some more complex cases, involving assets such as offshore trusts or company assets, it may prove more difficult to transfer ownership or part ownership over to someone who, following the decree absolute, has ceased to be a spouse. In all cases, the experts at Higgins Miller will examine the assets of each partner and offer advice as to what a fair agreement will be.

One issue which could impact on a financial settlement after decree absolute is if one of the partners subsequently remarries, in which case they would lose some of their rights to claim from their former spouse. If a client comes to us to handle a financial settlement after decree absolute, and one of the reasons they want to get the matter settled is because they intend to remarry, we would generally advise that they delay the marriage until after the financial settlement has been agreed.

Another problem which can arise, although which is thankfully very rare, is that a spouse dies after the decree absolute has been granted but before the financial settlement has been reached. In a case such as this, the client, as they are no longer a surviving spouse, would not be automatically eligible for the kind of assets which are passed on to a widow or widower.  

When a client comes to us to make a financial agreement after decree absolute we will explain the risks and the pros and cons in clear and easily understood language. We’ll work with them and with any representatives of the former partner to ensure that a fair deal is reached, and that the client in question is then free to get on with the rest of their life. Many people assume that a decree absolute means that the chance to reach a financial settlement has passed, but this is not the case. An agreed settlement is still in the best interests of both parties, as it will stop the risk of claims being made in the future, as long as both parties provide full disclosure of their assets.

If you’d like to ask questions about a financial settlement after decree absolute, or any other aspect of the divorce process, please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. We’ll work through an initial 20 minute appraisal free of charge, and if you want to book a first appointment it will be for a fixed fee, meaning you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. Making the right decisions when you draw up a financial agreement could impact for many years to come, so it’s worth making the investment to get the best possible advice before the process starts. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.


April 18, 2019


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