Divorce proceedings and the effect of the Decree Absolute being pronounced.

What are the legal implications of the Decree Absolute being granted?

There are 3 main stages to the divorce procedure in England and Wales and the final stage is the Decree Absolute. The Decree Absolute ends the marriage and once it is finalised, both parties are officially divorced and can remarry. The Petitioner may apply for a Decree Absolute six weeks and one day after the date of the Decree Nisi.

So, what actually changes once the Decree Absolute has been granted? Here we outline the legal implications...

* Inheritance

Once divorced, you will no longer inherit from your former spouse. If you haven't already done so, it is important that you change your will to ensure that your wishes are enacted upon your death. If your ex-spouse leaves you anything, still identifying you as their spouse, and they subsequently die, it will be as if you pre-deceased them and the bequeathment will be cancelled. The reverse is also true, so if you leave your entire estate to your spouse and then you divorce, you will in effect die intestate.

* Pension

Any entitlement to your former spouse's pension will be lost.

* Property

If the property in which you reside is solely owned in the name of your ex-spouse, the Decree Absolute will mean you cease to have any matrimonial home rights on that property.   It is important therefore, that prior to the Decree Absolute, you resolve your matrimonial finances and draw up a Consent Order decreeing how your assets should be divided after you divorce.

Any agreements reached prior to the Decree Absolute should be made into a Court Order as this is the only way to ensure that they become legally binding, limiting the possibility of any future claims. In cases where a couple cannot reach agreement, the Court has the power to order a division of income and assets, basing that decision on what they consider to be fair.

The Court retains considerable powers over matrimonial finances long after the Decree Absolute. What this means is that you may apply to the Court for financial help from your ex-spouse any time in the future, until you either re-marry or die.

It may also be worth applying for a Consent Order now, as when a claim is made some time in the future, the Court will consider what assets are held when the application is made, rather than at the time of the separation. The Court may also take into account the length of time elapsed before an application is made, when deciding their financial orders.

All of which means it's very important to consider your best long-term interests before the Decree Absolute is granted. For independent guidance on all aspects of your separation, call us at New Leaf Solicitors today on 01788 555042 or email amandaweaver@newleafsolicitors.co.uk