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Beware of the Remarriage Trap

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Dissolving your marriage may feel like the end of a very long and turbulent road, and that you have finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. However, should you remarry, you may fall foul of what is commonly known as “the Remarriage Trap”.

What is the Remarriage Trap?

The Remarriage Trap occurs when you remarry without having resolved financial matters from a previous marriage. During divorce proceedings it is open to either party to the divorce to obtain a financial order, either by agreement or by determination from a Judge.  However, if either party to a divorce has not asked the Court to consider the financial aspect of their divorce, prior to remarrying, that party is then barred from doing so.

For example, if husband A and wife have divorced, and wife then marries a husband B, the wife would be barred from making an application to the Court to resolve financial matters relating to her marriage to husband A.

What is the impact of the Remarriage Trap?

During the course of a marriage, a married couple may accumulate assets, both jointly and also in their respective sole names.  These assets are likely to be considered the assets of the marriage and may include property, investments, pensions, household contents and high value items, for example motor vehicles, jewellery, antiques, and artwork.

In the absence of an agreement between separating couples regarding how the assets of the marriage are to be divided between them, a Judge will need to decide how the assets are to be divided.

However, if you have finalised your divorce and remarried without first submitting an application to the Court to consider the financial aspects of your divorce, your remarriage will then prevent you from being able to do so.

The consequences could mean you may lose your beneficial interest in assets that you would otherwise be entitled to or that the extent of your entitlement is curtailed as you are unable to seek redress from the Court in the absence of an agreement.

Furthermore, whilst you are barred from seeking a financial order from the court, your former spouse is not, unless of course they have also fallen foul of the remarriage trap.

Therefore, your former spouse would retain their ability to make a claim over the matrimonial assets. There is no time limit within which a financial claim can be brought by either party. If you were to remarry 10 years after your divorce, and then suddenly win the lottery the next day, your former spouse could make a claim over your lottery winnings, whereas, if your former spouse were to win the lottery and you hadn’t previously resolved financial matters, but you had remarried, you would not be able to pursue a claim against your former spouse.

Only one application would remain open to a person who has fallen afoul of the Remarriage Trap, and that is to apply for a Pension Sharing Order. You would not be able to make a claim seeking a lump sum order, a property adjustment order, a pension attachment order, or a maintenance order, under the Matrimonial Causes Act, so it is very important not to trigger the Remarriage Trap.

How do I avoid the Remarriage Trap?

The easiest way to avoid the Remarriage Trap is to properly conclude all financial issues prior to remarriage, or to make an application for a Financial Remedy Order, as doing so can protect your claims.

Here at Johnson Astills, our Family Team have the knowledge to assist you in navigating through all stages of the Divorce process, as well as the experience in dealing with difficult financial situations between divorcing parties, so we are more than capable of assisting you to achieving the best outcome you can realistically achieve in your divorce. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0116 255 4855 or complete an online enquiry form today.