Sorting out finances arising from relationship breakdown can sometimes take years to conclude, so it is commonplace for people to have found a new partner before an order is finalised. But could your ex claim money or maintenance from your new partner? Or can cohabiting with someone new adversely affect your divorce settlement? Read on to find out.
Can my ex claim money or maintenance from my new partner?
As part of the separation, the court will look at the case in the round, using the factors of section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA) 1973 as a guide to achieving a fair outcome based on each party’s needs, and the needs of any children. However, to be clear, there are no circumstances where an ex could claim money or maintenance directly from an individual’s new partner as a part of a divorce settlement.
Can my ex make a claim for money/maintenance from my new partner if we are already divorced?
As mentioned, your ex cannot claim money directly from your new partner. That said, when you get divorced, unless you obtain a financial order from the court, your financial ties with your ex are not automatically severed. Without a court order or consent order, your ex can potentially claim money from you many years later. Even if you have no matrimonial assets to divide, it is sensible to get a financial order which includes a “clean break”. This is a legally binding order that permanently and irrevocably severs all financial ties.
You can apply for a financial order after the Conditional Order is received and at any time afterwards until one party marries. Once your ex marries, it automatically extinguishes any financial claims they might otherwise have had.
To be clear, although your ex may be able to make a financial claim in relation to your finances in the future if you haven’t obtained a clean break order, they will not be able to make a claim directly from your new partner for financial provision. As with a settlement during divorce, the court will look at section 25 of the MCA 1973 as discussed above, although this will be viewed through the prism of time passed and the reasons for making the application.
What about during divorce – does the existence of my new partner affect how the a divorce settlement is calculated?
The aim for the court is to divide the matrimonial pot between a couple as fairly as possible, whilst taking into consideration each party’s financial needs and situation before and during the marriage. The court starts at a 50/50 split of the assets and work backwards in order to help it determine a fair distribution.
Because every couple’s circumstances are different, the law has been designed flexibly and there is no set method that the court uses to calculate a divorce settlement. There is a range of factors under section 25 of the MCA the court uses to formulate their decision, and one of these is the needs, obligations, and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future. This is where living with a new partner may have an impact.
How will living with a new partner affect my divorce settlement?
As mentioned above, some of the factors that the court looks at when calculating a divorce settlement include financial needs and situation. The court will aim to make sure that the parties needs are met and that they can maintain the same standard of living or as close to it as possible.
If you are now living with a new partner, the court may decide that your financial needs are therefore smaller. Even if you do not rely on your new partner for any financial support and maintain completely separate finances, the court may take the view that living with them reduces your day-to-day expenses. This may consequently have the effect of reducing the amount of your divorce settlement.
Can I keep my new relationship a secret until the divorce is finalised?
If you are not living with your new partner and have no immediate plans to do so, there is no reason you have to disclose the fact that you are in a new relationship. However, if you have moved in together or it is a very real prospect in the near future, you must be honest. If you fail to tell the court you are living with your new partner or receiving financial support from them, your ex will be able to apply to the court to have an existing order varied to take this into account.
Does child maintenance take into account a new partner’s income?
In short, the amount your ex as the paying parent must pay will generally be calculated on their income and how often the children stay overnight. Therefore, living with a new partner should not affect the amount of child maintenance you should receive from your ex partner.
Does getting married affect any maintenance payments from my ex?
Once you remarry, your ex is no longer obligated to make any maintenance payments to you. That said, getting married should not have any adverse effect on the money paid by your ex in relation to child maintenance.
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