Ask the experts: "I'm separated from my ex but would it be best financially to get a divorce?"

Tracey Moloney
3 August 2017

Q

Please can you advise me on whether I should get a divorce. My husband and I have been separated for more than 15 years. We sold our marital home and have split the money 50/50. I now live in a rented flat and he has bought a house.

My husband started divorce proceedings some time ago, but then dropped them as neither of us were planning on remarrying. He lives with another woman who is also separated from her husband, but not divorced.

I have now been told that as we aren’t divorced if one of us were to die there would be financial implications. Is it true? What would they be?

I don’t work due to health reasons, so would I have a claim on his private pension?

We are on civil terms and our marital status has just never been an issue. Should we bother with the expense of getting divorced?
 

From
AM/Nottingham

A

Whether to get divorced or not is totally down to you and what you consider to be important.

However, currently you are both able to make a claim on each other’s assets. In order to sever all ties between you, you would need to do two things:

  • Start divorce proceedings. This could be done based upon five years’ separation. If you are both in agreement, there would be a legal cost of £600, including VAT, and a court fee cost of £550 in total.
  • Once divorce proceedings have begun, a solicitor would then draft a financial order to reflect the clean break order you have agreed to.

However, before you consider point two, I would suggest that you consult a solicitor for advice. This is particularly important because you are unable to work due to ill health and rent a property, while your husband is living with someone and has his own home and a pension.

You are still entitled to a portion of all of this and you may consider it prudent to investigate your entitlement prior to signing the clean break order. As it stands – given you are still his wife – your claim against all of his estate including his pension remains open.

Tracey Maloney is head of family law at Co-op Legal Services