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Death During Divorce – What Happens If My Spouse Dies?

Last updated Apr 21 2023 | Family Law

by Aryan Fallahi

by Aryan Fallahi

Paralegal

In this article

How does it affect financial proceedings?

The effect that a spouse’s death with have on financial proceedings during divorce will depend on the stage you are at. Primarily, this differs depending on if the court has yet to issue the Final Order:

Before the Final Order is issued

The court cannot enforce most financial proceedings until they issue the Final Order. Therefore, if a spouse dies before the Final Order, it is then not binding on the other party.

If inadequate provisions have been made, the surviving spouse can make a claim under The Inheritance (Provision for Family Dependants) Act 1975. The Inheritance Act 1975 gives spouses, former spouses, and children the right to claim a monthly sum from the estate of the deceased.  This is only if the deceased spouse was financially maintaining them at the time of their death.

However, the court has the power to terminate the right to make claims in the future when hearing the financial claims during the divorce. In such cases, the court will consider relevant circumstances, such as the deceased party’s assets and liabilities, and the impact of the death on any financial orders made in the proceedings.

After the Final Order is issued

When a party dies after the court issues the Final Order, any financial orders made prior to the death are binding on the deceased’s estate. If the order includes a lump sum payment, it becomes a liability of the estate.

If there is a claim for periodical payments but the order does not specificy this to cease on the death of the payer, the receiving party may have a viable claim under The Inheritance Act 1975.

For scenarios where there is no financial order when a party dies, the surviving party cannot bring a claim for financial orders. They also may not inherit under a will and the intestacy rules.

Any financial claim would have to be made under The Inheritance Act 1975, but being an ex-spouse would limit such a claim.

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