With DIY divorces offering a perceived quick and cost-effective split, it’s an appealing option for separating couples, but the little-known re-marriage trap can have damaging financial consequences for spouses who choose to divorce this way.

Here, WHN Solicitors’s specialist divorce and separation legal executive, Diane Matthews, offers some helpful guidance on the re-marriage trap and explores how DIY divorce can cause unsuspecting couples to lose out financially on a lump sum, property adjustment or spousal maintenance order against their former spouse.

The re-marriage trap

In simple terms, if you divorce and then re-marry without sorting out your financial agreement – either by obtaining a consent order addressing the division of the matrimonial finances, or by having an order imposed by the court – then you will be barred from applying for a lump sum, property adjustment order or spousal maintenance against your former spouse.

The outcome of individuals inadvertently falling into this re-marriage trap can be disastrous. It means an individual would lose the right to claim assets from their former spouse, even if they could have made these same claims in the divorce proceedings.

Taking steps to avoid falling into the re-marriage trap cannot be overstated.

Financial agreements

The best way to deal with matters is to ensure that all financial and property issues are finalised before you re-marry.

While child maintenance is dealt with separately, a financial application covers a plethora of financial orders including dealing with pensions, property, lump sum orders and maintenance orders.

This includes having any agreement approved by the court. If it’s not possible to take this step because there is insufficient time or you’re unable to reach an agreement with your former partner, then an application for a financial remedy order should be filed with the court prior to any re-marriage.

This protects claims against former spouses, other than the right to receive spousal maintenance which ends on the recipient’s re-marriage.

A costly mistake

The dangers of the re-marriage trap are set out clearly in the case of EvE [2008], where prior to the re-marriage, parties reached an agreed settlement in which the wife – who held the bulk of the assets – was to pay the husband £250,000.

A consent order was duly filed with the court for approval, but this step was only taken three days after the husband re-married. The husband’s request for the court to approve the consent order was refused, with the trial judge explaining that under existing law, it didn’t have the jurisdiction to make the order.

As a result, the consent order could not be approved, and the wife was not required to pay the husband any money.

The case clearly indicates how disastrous the re-marriage trap can be for some parties when a financial agreement is naively ignored during DIY divorce proceedings.

WHN’s experienced family lawyers offer compassionate and expert advice on divorce and financial matters, including consent orders and financial remedy applications. If you’re thinking about divorce, it’s vital to take out specialist advice to get a fair financial deal in the split.

Diane Matthews is a legal executive based at WHN’s Blackburn office. She specialises in helping couples on divorce and separation matters, including the dissolution of civil partnerships and the associated financial consequences. With broad experience in financial remedy proceedings, Diane is committed to a non-confrontational approach and works to provide proactive, constructive and sensible advice from the outset, while she is also experienced in court proceedings.

If you need help on a divorce and finances matter, our specialist solicitors are here to help. Please contact Diane on 01254 272640 or by email diane.matthews@whnsolicitors.co.uk