The final stages within divorce/dissolution proceedings is to apply to court for a final order, previously called the decree absolute in divorce proceedings. Once this is made, you are no longer legally married or in a civil partnership and both parties are free to marry again or enter another civil partnership. The final order however does not end the financial ties between former spouses/partners and therefore an ex-spouse/partner could make a financial claim against the other in the future, even many years later. It is therefore important that people deal with any financial obligations as well.
What is a clean break order?
A clean break order is a type of financial order that is issued following a divorce or dissolution. A clean break order ensures that all the financial ties between ex-spouses/partners are severed and effectively draws a line under the division of assets after your divorce or dissolution. Once a clean break order has been approved by the court, it means that no claim can be made on a person’s assets in the future, and they cannot make a claim against their former partner’s assets either. This will include all capital and property owned as well as protecting income and pension from further claims and any future inheritances or windfalls, such as a lottery win. There is specific wording required within a financial order, which must be signed by both parties and then approved by a court, to achieve a clean break.
Is a clean break order always made?
There are limitations to obtaining a clean break order. Where parties have an ongoing financial obligation to the other, it may not be able to achieve a clean break order. For example, and usually after a very long marriage, if there is a considerable discrepancy in incomes, then the court will consider making a spousal maintenance order. The court can also defer a clean break on capital and inheritance as well and can do so if there is a maintenance order until the maintenance order has expired. It is important to note the court needs only to consider if a clean break is suitable in the circumstances. It is under no obligation to make one.
Are consent orders and clean break orders the same thing?
In short, the answer is no, but a clean break can form part of a consent order. A financial consent order is used when parties have come to an agreement about their finances after divorce/dissolution. It’s a formal way of recording the financial agreement and to be able to apply to court to enforce the agreed terms if one party fails to keep to the agreement. The agreement could relate to property, pensions, income, child maintenance or all these things. The consent order can include the clean break clause and in that instance the consent order would then also be a clean break order.
Without a financial settlement order/clean break are there scenarios where an ex-partner can still claim money or assets?
Yes, typical examples include:
- Separating when there were no assets but divorcing years later when there were
- Where one person receives an inheritance
- Where on person receives a windfall, such as a lottery win
- Separating amicably but later parties fall out; or
- Remarrying using money saved during previous marriage
How can a solicitor assist with the resolving financial issues on divorce?
Your divorce or dissolution only deals with ending the marriage/civil partnership, not the financial obligations. It is very important therefore that as well as ending the marriage/partnership, you deal with any financial obligations as well. You do have the ability to sever all those financial obligations remaining after a divorce or dissolution with a court order. This could be either be a consent order if the two parties can reach an agreement or following court proceedings if you cannot. Solicitors can assist with all aspects of resolving financial issues, from preparing the consent order, helping to negotiate the terms of financial settlement or to represent a person within contested financial remedy proceedings.
If you would like to speak to a member of our team in relation to any aspect of divorce or dissolution please call us on 0161 696 6193 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.