Once your finances are sorted, your order is in place and Decree Absolute has been made, it can be difficult to know what to do next. After a few months of intense discussions and legal processes, coming to the end of a separation can feel like a huge anti-climax.
Points to consider before applying for Decree Absolute
Before getting click happy and pressing “submit” on your online Decree Absolute application, pause for a minute. It may be that you should not apply as soon as you are eligible – officially dissolving your marriage could have implications if you haven’t agreed your finances yet.
There are additional steps to take when applying for Decree Absolute if it has been more than 12 months since your Decree Nisi was granted.
If one or both of these applies to you, it is important to seek legal advice about what to do next.
Most importantly, you should make sure that you have a financial order in place, providing how your finances should be separated. If you haven’t discussed finances with your ex, it is important that you do so before Decree Absolute is granted, or speak to a lawyer about the best steps to take to do this – there are a variety of non-court options that are available and can work well to help with this.
Even if you have agreed what should happen, it is strongly recommended that you enter into a financial consent order. This deals with the legal claims that you have as a result of the marriage. These remain “live” even if you have Decree Absolute, but haven’t had a financial order made.
So you’ve got your financial order and your Decree Absolute is on it’s way. What next? You may find there’s a fair bit of life admin to get on top of, so set aside some time to sort out some of the admin, before life gets in the way again.
Below are my top tips for getting your life admin in order and to help you move forward in a positive direction:
- Keep your Decree Absolute safe. You will need this again if you plan to remarry in the future or need to prove your marital status;
- Consider whether any specific steps need to be taken to implement your financial order. Make sure any delayed interests under your financial order are properly protected (eg delayed receipt of equity in a property);
- Update your Will, or make a Will – Decree Absolute can affect provisions in an existing Will. It is worth seeking advice about whether the terms of your Will remain valid;
- Think about whether it would be helpful to have some therapeutic support to help you process the end of the relationship and shape the new direction your life is to take;
- Consider having a Change of Name Deed if you are reverting to your maiden name, or wish to use a different name, as well as whether you need to apply for a new passport or driving license;
- Update your death in service beneficiary under your pension and check who the benefits are assigned to under your life policies and any other insurance policies;
- Get to grips with your finances. Consider speaking to a financial advisor to come up with a future-proof plan. Whilst you are at it, update your mortgage lender on the change of circumstances, close any joint accounts and update your bank, credit card and utility providers;
- Inform the children’s schools and nurseries and make sure both addresses are registered and they know to communicate with both parents;
- Look into whether you are eligible for any benefits and update HMRC; and
- Consider seeking legal advice on how to protect your wealth for your loved ones. If you are in a new relationship, find out the legal implications of this and sensible steps to take, including whether you need a cohabitation agreement.
Finally, and most importantly, take some time for self-care. The chances are you’ve been through a bit of a rough time over the past few months and years. Think about what makes you tick and what you enjoy doing, and make some time for yourself. It could be treating yourself to a spa day, a glass of fizz with a friend, some retail therapy or a trip to the theatre.
If any of these tips have raised questions for you about your situation, then please do get in touch to discuss this further.