For the sake of your business and your peace of mind, make sure, if your marriage comes to an end, that you finalise your finances properly.

If you don’t get that final court order, you leave yourself open to claims in the future, as happened to one divorced husband who had since built up a very successful business.

In the case of Briers v Briers, the couple married in 1984 and separated in 2002. While the marriage was formally ended with a decree absolute in 2005, and Mr Briers had transferred the family home to his wife and paid her maintenance, in what he considered to be full and final settlement, no such settlement document was ever formalised.

His fledgling business then became very successful, and eight years later, in 2013, the former Mrs Briers claimed a share.

Mrs Briers applied to the court for financial relief – a share of his assets – and much to her ex-husband’s dismay, the court agreed that she should be awarded £2.7 million (30 per cent of the assets), all of which had been acquired by the husband's hard work since the end of the marriage.

The judge in the case accepted Mrs Briers’ assertion that the delay in making her financial claims was motivated only by the pressing demands of everyday life. He did not accept that the breakdown of the wife's subsequent relationship was a factor.

The moral of the story is simple. If you think you have an agreement in place, check again. The door is only really shut on claims once a formal court order is in place, and delaying that process could cost you dear.

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