Clean Break Orders in Divorce: Why They Matter

A clean break order ensures the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse are severed following divorce. Without one, your ex-husband or wife could make a financial claim against you in the future, no matter how many years have passed since you separated.

What is a clean break order?

A clean break order is a type of financial order that is issued following a divorce. As the name suggests, it provides a ‘clean break’ between you and your ex-spouse. More specifically, it provides a clean break in terms of your finances.

What happens if I do not get a clean break order?

If you do not get a clean break order, your ex-spouse is within their right to make a financial claim against you at any point in the future. This means he/she can request further financial assistance from you, regardless of whether you have been divorced for one year or twenty years.

This is because a divorce does not end your financial commitments to each other. This may seem strange, seeing as a divorce ends your marriage and permits you to marry other people. However, you continue to have a financial responsibility to one another, even once the Decree Absolute has been issued.

The only way to sever the financial ties between you is to get a clean break order from the court.

If you fail to do so, your ex-spouse could legitimately request a share of any inheritance, business success or lottery winnings you come into. This is exactly what happened to Nigel Page who won £56m in the EuroMillions draw. He was then forced to pay his ex-wife £2m, even though they had been separated for 10 years.

You may not currently have any assets to share with your ex-spouse. As such, it can be tempting to overlook the need for a clean break order when you divorce. However, you never know when your financial circumstances might change. If they do, your ex-spouse is legally entitled to request further financial provision from you.

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How to get a clean break order

A clean break order is most suitable for divorcing couples who do not have any assets to divide. If you do have joint assets to divide, or ongoing maintenance is to be paid, you should consider getting a consent order instead. This can contain a clean break clause which severs the financial ties between you, aside from any prior arrangements that have been made.

To get a clean break order, you need to make an application to the court. You can do this once a Decree Nisi has been issued. It is recommended that you ask a solicitor to draw up the agreement and send it to the court for approval. If the clean break order is granted, both parties are barred from making a financial claim against the other.

By having a clean break order in place, you are protecting any wealth you acquire the future. In turn, this will protect you, your new spouse (if applicable) and any children you have had from other relationships. It is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Without one, the consequences could be costly.

Get a clean break order

If you would like to know more about clean break orders and consent orders, please speak to our family law solicitors. We can explain the different types of financial order available during divorce, recommending the best approach for you.

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