Can my partner's ex-spouse make a claim against me?

Published: 23rd December 2010
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Many partners in a relationship are concerned as to how their position will be affected when their partner begins divorce proceedings against an ex-spouse. In particular they are concerned that the ex-spouse might be able to mount a financial claim against them or name them in the divorce proceedings.



You can only be cited in divorce proceedings if you are named as a Co-Respondent to an adultery Petition. If you are cited as Co-Respondent you will be required to file an Acknowledgement of Service to the Petition with the Court. You might be ordered to meet or contribute towards the costs of the divorce suit. It is important that if you are named as a Co-Respondent you carefully check the Petition before filing your Acknowledgement of Service. You will also need to complete your Acknowledgement of Service carefully and specialist advice in this regard can be very useful.



Even if your relationship did not cause the marriage breakdown, adultery might still be cited as a legitimate factor to bring the marriage to an end.



If you are named as a Co-Respondent you will be a party to the proceedings and although Court attendances are unlikely you will be copied in to the Court paperwork generated throughout the matter.



A distinction should be drawn between the divorce and financial (ancillary relief) proceedings. You will not be joined as a party to these proceedings unless there was a dispute over assets that you either own in your sole name or jointly own with your partner. If that were the case the Court would need to be satisfied that it is right for you to be joined as a party to the proceedings. It is unusual for a partner to be joined in ancillary relief proceedings but you may in fact want this if there is a dispute over an asset you jointly own.



If you have assets or liabilities in your joint names with your partner, then your partner's share in those assets or liabilities will be taken into account in the divorce settlement. This may be of particular concern if you hold a property together and your partner's ex-spouse is seeking to claim an interest in that property. If you do own property jointly you should consider entering into a Deed of Trust so it is clear as to what proportions of the property are owned by each of you.



An ex-spouse cannot make a financial claim against you as the new partner, however, the Court might take into consideration your income and assets when considering the financial settlement between your partner and the ex-spouse. In particular the Court will look to these assets when considering how your partner's capital and income needs will be met and view your assets as an available resource. If you are cohabiting, your partner would be required to give details as to your assets, income and liabilities.



In order to understand where you stand if your partner's ex-spouse were to initiate divorce proceedings, specialist advice should be sought. If you feel any of the matters in this article affect you, please contact Samantha Jago of the Family Department.



Samantha Jago, joined RHW Solicitors in 2008 from an established Surrey firm to set up the Family Team which also consists of two other solicitors. Ms Jago is a Law Society accredited Family Law Specialist and has a wide range of experience in all family matters, which includes prenuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, divorce, disputes over jurisdiction, cohabitation disputes, civil partnerships, children matters, injunctions and resolving financial matters arising from the breakdown of a relationship. Ms Jago can also carry out advocacy on behalf of clients. Ms Jago was born in Guildford and attended the County School and then the College of Law after reading history at Cardiff University. She was admitted as a solicitor in April 2005.



As well as the family law experience offered by Ms Jago, RHW Solicitors are also a firm that is involved with commercial law. RHW Solicitors are based in Guildford, Surrey (with offices also in Kingston, Leatherhead, Walton-on-Thames and Raynes Park) and offer a wide range of services to high quality and specialist business groups. These include as care homes, as well as firms related to dental, medical, horticultural trade and veterinary services.



Source: Samantha Jago

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