GOING through a divorce is one of the most stressful life events you will experience. The whole process throws up all sorts of emotions and by the time you are about to conclude the process and apply for your Decree Absolute which is the final document required to bring your marriage to an end, you will probably experience a whole variety of emotions from relief and sadness, to a feeling of positivity, looking forward to building a new future.

The Decree Absolute is a very important document, and whilst you may be relieved that the divorce process has come to an end, it is very important that you take some time out to appreciate the implications of the Decree Absolute on your status.

Here are some of the things that may apply to you once you have your Decree Absolute:

1.It is important make a note of the court reference number and keep the document in a safe place. It is a good idea to have certified copies made so that you can use them, should they be required in the future. You will need to produce your Decree Absolute if you re-marry to prove your marital status. If you do loose your Decree Absolute at some point in the future, by having kept the court reference it will be much easier to obtain a new copy from the Court. There is a fee for this – currently £10. To do a search for the case number alone will cost £45 if you know roughly when the divorce occurred and which court, or £65 to the Central Records Office in London for each 10-year period searched. Court fees go up year on year, so better just to keep your original somewhere safe!

2.If there were finances to sort out, these should now be encompassed into an order. It is vital that you now make sure all the provisions are put in place, for example make sure the joint bank accounts are closed down or transferred into a sole name of one of the parties. All utility companies should be informed where applicable so that the non resident party’s name can be removed from the account. If there are no finances as such, you might want to take legal advice about a clean break consent order to prevent any future claims?

3.It is very important that you revise any existing Will that you may have. Any provision in your Will to your former spouse will now automatically fail, unless the Will specifically states it is to remain post Decree Absolute. If in doubt, seek some advice from a solicitor or qualified Wills writer. Of course, you also need to bear in mind that you will no longer inherit from your former spouse on the same basis.

4. If you receive any benefits, you need to inform the Benefits Agency that your status has changed. Even if you hadn’t been on benefits whilst you were married or separated it is worth calling your benefits office to see if your change in status makes you eligible for any benefits.

5.You will need to contact Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue to update them as to your change of status so this can be applied to your tax code and national insurance records where necessary.

6.If you have changed your name after the divorce (eg. reverted to your maiden name) you will need to apply for a new/amended passport.

7. If you hold a current driving licence, and have changed your name, you will need to contact the DVLA with your new details, or face a possible financial penalty. It is important to note that failure to do this could result in a financial penalty.

8.You will no longer be eligible for spousal pension benefit. You may have agreed a pension share which will now be put into place. In respect of any pensions in your name you should update them as to your change of status.

9.If you have children you should let the schools know that the divorce is now finalised. Schools will then be able to keep an eye on your child(ren) to make sure they are coping with the changes at home, and if necessary put into place additional support. It is important that both parents are kept informed of key dates in the school diary to avoid conflict between parents and disappointment for the child, so make sure the school office is aware of the circumstances and have both parents’ points of contact.

If you have any questions in respect of your status after your Decree Absolute it is important that you take independent Legal Advice to ensure that you are fully aware of your new status.