How A Clean Break Order Affects Your UK Divorce

Divorce is always a stressful time for all parties involved, and deciding on the financial settlement can add to the pressure and strain of separation. These settlements can feature many different aspects, including child maintenance, division of capital such as savings, pension scheme sharing, interim maintenance for a spouse and property division, and it can be difficult to sort out all of these things to the satisfaction of both parties. But what about a Clean Break Order? What is it and how will it affect your divorce? Will it even apply in the case of your divorce? This is where we come in.

What Is A Financial Clean Break Order?

A Financial Clean Break Order (often just referred to simply as a ‘Clean Break’) is a settlement ordered by the court that will end all financial claims between the spouses going through a divorce. Once the settlement has been finalised, neither party will be able to make any future claims regarding payment or maintenance for the rest of their lives. It is, simply, a clean break from the spouse. This only applies, however, to the finances between spouses. If children are involved (and therefore child maintenance payments are needed), a clean break cannot be achieved within these circumstances. Child maintenance will always take priority and no clean break should be allowed when the welfare of a child is at stake. Clean Break Orders, therefore, are most suitable for couples who either have no children at all, or for couples who have children over the age of 18.

How Does A Clean Break Order Work?

Assuming there are no children under the age of 18 involved, and that you have come to a n agreement about splitting the family finances with your spouse, a Clean Break Order is normally relatively simple to obtain. Once the order has been drafted and approved and signed by both parties, it can then be submitted to the court. In most cases, neither party will even have to attend the court, and any queries from the court can be responded to by letter. If, as a couple, you are not entitled to a Clean Break Order, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get one down the line. If you are sure that a specific change will occur that will alter your circumstances (your children turning 18, for example), then you can apply for a Deferred Clean Break Order which will come into effect when the conditions have been met.

However, do bear in mind that although the court is usually happy to approve a clean break order, it is not an automatic rubber stamp. On rare occasions where there is a very clearly one-sided settlement, the court does have the power to refuse to make a clean break order, a power which it does exercise occasionally

What Are The Benefits Of A Clean Break Order?

The main benefit of a Clean Break Order is in the name – you get a full, clean break from your spouse without having to worry about being tied to them financially in the future. In short, the order puts an end to any rights you have over any of the other’s assets. The last thing you want after a stressful divorce is for your ex-spouse to start making claims for future assets, income, pensions or property. Without a Clean Break Order, your ex-spouse could even claim a share of any inheritance or lottery winnings, years after your divorce has been finalised. A clean break will help give you peace of mind about your future and your financial stability down the line.

Two real case studies where having no clean break backfired

“We are in total agreement about the split in the family finances – is a clean break really necessary?” No one wants to spend money on legal advice unnecessarily – good legal advice doesn’t come cheap. However, going your several ways without a clean break order does have its own risks. For example, in our own experience, we’ve come across

1. a couple without much money who split up without a clean break order. Things changed, however, when one of them had a large win on the pools. Their ex-spouse made a claim for a share of the new found wealth, as he was able to without a clean break order, and was successful, much to the fury of the pools winner, who was ordered to hand over a valuable chunk of their pools win.

2. An elderly couple who divorced and separated – no clean break order was sought, but they simply made their own practical arrangements, keeping their own financial assets and retaining one house each. 10 years later, the ex-wife made a claim on her ex-husband’s house – which, foolishly, he had left in joint names. She was unsuccessful – only after an exceptionally drawn out court case, with hearing after hearing, appeal after appeal and which undoubtedly caused unnecessary distress to her ex-husband, who by then was in his mid-80s, in the last few years of his life.

When Is A Clean Break Order Not Suitable?

A Clean Break Order isn’t always possible, as the aim is make the spouses financially independent of each other. If, for example, one spouse earns much less than the other (or nothing at all), a clean break will not result in financial independence, as the division of assets may not give both parties enough money to both set up new homes independently of one another. In this case, a lump sum payment or ongoing future maintenance may be required from one spouse to the other, making a clean break impossible.

Looking For A UK Clean Break Divorce? Contact Our Specialists Today

Of course, it’s not always this black and white, and with UK courts dealing with divorces on a strictly case by case basis, you can’t guarantee what to expect. Whether you want a Clean Break Order or not, you will need the expertise of a specialist UK divorce solicitor to guide you through the whole process. Here at Bonallack and Bishop, we are divorce and family law specialists and will can advise you on your UK divorce and the best way to proceed regardless of your circumstances.

What’s more, we can see you face-to-face at one of our offices, or alternatively we can deal with your divorce by email, phone and Skype video – wherever in the world you are.
We also offer free initial phone advice and a free first appointment – and a free out of hours divorce advice line. Why not get in touch with one of our team today to see how we can help you.

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