7th May 2024

What does it mean to have the Final Order of divorce?

Nowadays, as an application for divorce is dealt with using the online service and does not require a reason to be given for the breakdown of the marriage, many couples will deal with the divorce application themselves and may not consult a family lawyer at any stage of their divorce.   However, what many couples do not realise is that although the final divorce order ends the marriage extinguishing some of the rights which the parties acquired on marrying (for example the right to access a widow’s pension), the final divorce order does not deal with financial arrangements.  

Of course, some arrangements must be made between a couple at the time of the divorce, for example if the family home is sold or if savings need to be shared, but this does not extinguish the financial claims which remain live and can cause problems for the couple later. Even though a divorced couple may not want to embark on trying to agree a financial settlement, or see an immediate need to do so, if the finances are not properly and fully dealt with, there is a possibility that significant problems could crop up further down the line.


Let’s look at a fictious couple and the potential consequences where the marriage has ended but they are still tied financially to one another:

Helen was married to James; they married in 2007, divorced in 2023, they didn’t sort out their finances on divorce. Helen remained living in the family home with the children, who at the time were of school age. The property is jointly owned by herself and James but neither wanted to sort out the finances at the time because they thought it was too expensive to see a solicitor or consider mediation. 6 years later, Helen remarried, which has limited her claims in her first marriage to James. The children are now grown up and the parties’ needs have changed. James’ claims are not limited as he has not remarried. This has become a more complex situation to unravel.

Say James has a pension and has continued to pay into this over the past 6 years, and the funds have increased substantially in value. Despite her remarriage, Helen still has a claim to his pension and the Court has a wide discretion. It would’ve been better if they had sorted things out at the time they divorced, as Helen may have a claim to the whole of James’ pension fund.

What if in the future Helen is now seriously unwell, and can no longer work, the family home has been adapted to suit her needs and she and her husband cannot afford to move. The Court will need to consider the competing needs of the parties and all the circumstances of the case as they are now and not as they were in 2023. The delay in sorting things out at the time has caused future uncertainty for all concerned.

As time goes on, more and more problems could arise; health issues, inheritance, remarriage and so on.

The parties are now uncertain about their futures, they have not been able to draw a line under matters. The moral of the tale is to take legal advice at the time of your divorce. Once the divorce is issued the parties have a 20 week “cooling off” period which enables them to sort things out and hopefully agree matters so that they can present an agreed financial order Consent Order to the Court for approval by a Judge after the Conditional Order of divorce is made.


Do approach our friendly team, we have a wealth of experience and offer a sympathetic but efficient service. We also offer mediation. Your solicitor is here to help you sort things out and move forward with certainty your life.

Margaret Sculpher

Margaret Sculpher
Associate Solicitor & Mediator