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Can I Live with a New Partner Before My Divorce is Finalised?

The decision to move in with a new partner before your divorce is finalised is a significant one, fraught with potential risks and complications. While it may seem like a natural progression in your new relationship, it’s essential to understand the legal and financial implications involved. In the UK, living with a new partner during your ongoing divorce can have serious consequences, especially concerning financial settlements and the disclosure of income and expenditures.

The Risks of Moving in with a New Partner Before Divorce

One of the primary risks of cohabitating with a new partner before your divorce is finalised is the potential financial impact. If you live with your new partner for more than six months, your ex-spouse can request that your new partner discloses their financial income and outgoings. This request stems from the idea that your new partner contributes to your household finances, making you collectively better off than your ex-spouse, who manages their finances independently.

This situation can lead to an increased financial need for your ex-spouse, which may influence the division of marital assets. The court could determine that your ex-spouse requires more financial support, leading to a less favourable settlement for you.

Pros and Cons of Living with a New Partner Before Divorce Finalisation

Pros:

  1. Emotional Support: Living with a new partner can provide emotional stability and support during a tumultuous time.
  2. Shared Expenses: Combining households can lead to shared expenses, potentially reducing individual financial burdens.
  3. New Beginnings: It can be a step towards building a new life and moving forward from the past.

Cons:

  1. Financial Disclosure: Your new partner may be required to disclose their financial situation, which can be invasive and unwelcome.
  2. Impact on Settlements: The combined household income might lead to a more significant financial claim from your ex-spouse.
  3. Legal Complications: The ongoing divorce proceedings could become more complex and contentious, potentially prolonging the process.

Financial Settlements and the Divorce Process

Understanding how living with a new partner affects financial settlements requires understanding the divorce process and related financial orders.

Divorce Process and Timings:

  1. Filing for Divorce: The process begins with you filing a divorce application where you confirm to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down. (You can only divorce under the no-fault system now and no longer have to blame your ex for their conduct or to have lived apart for two years).
  2. Acknowledgement of Service: The respondent (your spouse) must acknowledge receipt of the divorce petition.
  3. Conditional Order: If the court agrees that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, a Conditional Order is granted. This is a very important stage when it comes to financial settlements because you can only apply for the court to make your agreement through a consent order legally binding once you have your conditional order from your divorce.
  4. Final Order: After six weeks and one day from your Conditional Order, you can apply for the Final Order, which legally ends the marriage. It is advisable not to apply for your Final Order until you’ve reached an agreement on your finances. For more information on this, read Why You Should Wait for a Consent Order Before Applying for Your Final Order in Divorce.

When it comes to financial settlements, there are two main types of orders: consent orders and financial remedy orders. Each has its pros and cons, which are important to consider when deciding which route to take.

A consent order is a legal document that confirms your financial agreement with your ex-spouse. It’s a voluntary process where both parties agree on the division of assets without going to court.

Pros:

  1. Less Expensive: Costs much less than a financial remedy order.
  2. Quicker Process: Faster to obtain as it avoids lengthy court proceedings.
  3. Simplified Paperwork: Uses Form D81, which is less detailed and invasive than the Form E used in financial remedy orders.
  4. Mutual Agreement: Reflects a mutually agreed settlement, which can reduce conflict and stress.

Cons:

  1. Voluntary Nature: Requires both parties to agree, which may not be possible in contentious divorces.
  2. Limited Court Involvement: Less court scrutiny may lead to one party agreeing to less favourable terms without fully understanding their rights.
  3. Needs Trust: Both parties volunteer financial disclosure so you need to be confident that your ex will be truthful.

Once a consent order is submitted to the court, the judge reviews the agreement and if they believe it to be fair they will approve it making the terms of the agreement legally binding and enforceable by a court.

Financial Remedy Orders

If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree, you may need to apply for a financial remedy order through the court. This process involves court hearings where a judge decides how to divide assets.

Pros:

  1. Judicial Oversight: A judge ensures that the settlement is fair and considers all aspects of both parties’ financial situations.
  2. Comprehensive Disclosure: Requires detailed financial disclosure, ensuring that all assets and liabilities are considered.
  3. Binding Decision: The court’s decision is binding and enforceable, providing certainty and closure.

Cons:

  1. More Expensive: Costs more due to legal fees and court costs.
  2. Longer Process: Takes significantly longer than a consent order due to the need for multiple court hearings and detailed disclosures.
  3. More Complicated: Involves the completion of Form E, which requires detailed and intrusive financial information.
  4. Increased Stress: The adversarial nature of court proceedings can increase stress and conflict between parties.

Court Encouragement for Agreements and Mediation

The court encourages couples to reach an agreement without going to court. Even if it seems like you can’t reach an agreement, the court wants you to try mediation first to see if you and your ex can reach an agreement without going to court. The reason is that the court understands how costly it can be to go to court and get a financial remedy order. With two opposing sets of solicitors battling it out, costs can spiral out of control, sometimes leaving couples with nothing to split because they’ve spent their money on legal fees.

Next Steps and Services

If you are considering moving in with a new partner before your divorce is finalised, it’s crucial to seek professional advice to understand your specific situation. At Easy Online Divorce, we offer a range of services to support you through this challenging time.

  • No-Fault Divorce Service (£299): Our no-fault divorce service simplifies the process, making it more straightforward and less stressful. We handle all the paperwork and legal requirements to ensure a smooth transition.

If you have already started your divorce, our clean break or consent order services can help you secure a fair financial settlement. These orders legally finalise your financial arrangements, ensuring you and your ex-spouse can move forward independently.

  • Clean Break Order (£399): A clean break order is the simplest type of consent order. It is for divorcing couples who have no children or assets to split. A clean break order gives a financial clean break that prevents either of you from making a future financial claim against the other, protecting future windfalls and inheritances.
  • Consent Order (£499): A consent order provides the same clean break protection but it also makes future agreements, such as selling the former marital home and splitting the proceeds legally binding. This prevents either party from changing their mind, giving you peace of mind and certainty that the agreement you’ve made will happen.

Free Consultation

Navigating the complexities of divorce and cohabitation requires expert guidance. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and determine your best course of action. Our team of experienced professionals is here to provide the support and advice you need to make informed decisions. Click here to book a free consultation.

Conclusion

While moving in with a new partner before finalising your divorce can offer emotional and financial benefits, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and legal implications.

Due to the high costs and stress associated with financial remedy orders, the court strongly encourages couples to reach an agreement without going to court.

Moving in with a new partner could result in them having to disclose their finances, which could reduce your share of the marital assets. Additionally, it could antagonise your ex-spouse, making them less likely to reach an agreement and forcing you down the expensive financial remedy court route.

A better solution is to maintain civil relations with your ex-spouse and try to reach a fair agreement with each other. This way, you can obtain a consent order, which is more cost-effective, quicker, and less stressful while still providing the same legally binding strength as a financial remedy order.

For guidance on how to reach an agreement, you can read our article on financial divorce settlements. Once you’ve reached an agreement, you can get a consent order. Remember, you must have started your divorce and received your conditional order to submit the consent order to the court for approval.

It takes around six months to get your conditional order after starting your divorce. Therefore, starting your divorce now and figuring out your financial settlement over these six months is advisable. This way, we can submit your consent order to the court for approval as soon as your conditional order is granted.

The less attractive alternative would be to sort your finances out first and then start your divorce, but this would mean that you’d have to wait a further six months before submitting your consent order to the court for approval. During that time, you risk your ex-spouse changing their mind about the agreement, causing further delays, stress and cost.

Let us help you navigate this challenging time with confidence and peace of mind. Click here to start your divorce today, or book a free consultation here.

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