The case of E v E, reported in this month's issue of Family Law, serves as a salutary reminder of the 'remarriage trap' for practitioners. For those who are not aware of the remarriage trap, it is the rule that you cannot make an application for a financial/property settlement ("ancillary relief") after you have remarried. You must therefore ensure that the settlement is finalised, before tying the knot again.
The facts in E v E were that the wife petitioned for divorce in 2003 and the decree absolute was pronounced in September of that year. A financial settlement was agreed and in July 2005 a draft consent order was drawn up whereby the wife was to pay the husband a lump sum of £250,000. The order included the common recital that the agreement was only to be binding in the event of the court making an order in its terms. The husband remarried on the 12th August 2005. A few days later the order was filed with the court, along with the husband's Form A application for ancillary relief, for dismissal purposes. Questions then arose as to the court's jurisdiction, in the light of the remarriage trap. The husband then applied to have the draft order approved. Mr Justice Singer refused the application - the husband had fallen into the remarriage trap, and the court had no jurisdiction to approve the consent order.
As the comment to the report says, a brutal outcome, but it is not as if the trap had not been exposed before.