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What is a clean break order?

A clean break order is a type of financial order that is issued following a divorce or dissolution and ensures that all the financial ties between both parties 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.

Divorcing couples should be aware that even after the divorce/dissolution has been finalised and the decree absolute/final order has been obtained, it is still possible for financial claims to be made against a former spouse. A clean break order is an order dismissing any future claims either partner may make against the other. A clean break order effectively cuts all financial ties between couples. 

The court has a duty to consider whether a clean break is possible for a separating couple however there are some circumstances where a clean break order is not appropriate. It is therefore important that you obtain legal advice at an early stage to obtain advice regarding your individual circumstances about what a reasonable settlement would be in your circumstances including advice on a clean break order.  

Our divorce and finance specialists are experienced in obtaining clean break orders for divorcing couples. Call our team today on 0161 696 6193.

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Clean break order FAQs

Why do I need a clean break order?

A clean break order ensures a financial clean break between divorcing couples, severing their financial ties and preventing future claims being made between spouses. It is necessary to prevent future financial disputes and ensures a final settlement.

How does a clean break order work?

A clean break provision is incorporated into a financial consent order. A financial consent order is a court order that outlines the division of all capital assets between spouses and sets out arrangements for any maintenance payments, if applicable.

The clean break provision ensures that each party can move on with their lives without any further financial obligations to their former partner. This means that neither party can make any future claims on the other's capital and income both during their lives and on their estate upon death. If spousal maintenance is to be paid between the parties, then there cannot be a financial clean break of income, but there can still be a capital clean break.

To obtain a financial consent order, both parties must agree on the division of assets and any ongoing maintenance payments. This agreement can be reached through negotiation or mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached the court can determine the division of the assets and impose the terms of a financial order.

Once a financial order is granted (including those that include a clean break provision), it becomes legally binding and enforceable. This means that if either party fails to comply with the terms of the order, they can be taken to court and ordered to comply.

Can you do your own financial consent/clean break order?

Yes, it is possible for someone to draft their own financial consent/clean break order, but it is generally not recommended. Financial consent are legal documents that need to be drafted in a specific way to be legally binding and enforceable, this is particularly important with regards to the provision for a clean break clause. If the document is not drafted correctly, it may not achieve the intended result or may be challenged in the future.

It is therefore highly recommended to seek the advice of a qualified family law solicitor when considering a financial consent/clean break order. They can assess your individual circumstances, provide advice on the best course of action, and draft the necessary legal documents on your behalf. This can help ensure that the financial consent/clean break order is legally binding and that your interests are protected.

Is a clean break order necessary?

A clean break order is not always necessary, but it is recommended in situations where a divorcing couple wants to ensure that financial ties are severed, and neither party can make a future claim on the other's assets or income.

How long does a financial consent/clean break order take?

The time it takes to obtain a financial consent/clean break order can vary depending on individual circumstances, complexity of the case, and court availability. Generally, it can take several weeks to months to obtain a financial consent/clean break order. It is recommended to seek the advice of a family law solicitor to help expedite the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken correctly and in court time.

Does the length of a marriage affect a financial consent/clean break order?

Yes, the length of a marriage can impact on the terms of a financial consent/clean break order. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the financial ties between the couple are more complex, making it more important to seek professional legal advice when considering a financial consent/clean break order.

What happens if you can’t achieve a clean break order?

If a clean break order cannot be achieved, it may be necessary to consider alternative legal options, such as ongoing financial support, property ownership, or other financial arrangements. It is important to seek the advice of a qualified family law solicitor to explore all available options and determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances.

Does the final order in a divorce/dissolution end my financial ties?

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.

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.

How much does a clean break order cost?

The cost of a financial consent/clean break order can vary depending on individual circumstances, complexity of the case, and the solicitor's fees. Generally, a financial consent/clean break order can cost anywhere from a thousand to several thousand pounds. It is recommended to seek the advice from specialist solicitors to obtain a clear estimate of the potential costs involved in obtaining a financial consent/clean break order.

  • Financial Clean Break Orders Explained

    Finances can be one of the most complicated parts of getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership, here solicitor Emma Roberts takes a closer look at a clean break order and highlights its importance when it comes to ending financial ties with a former partner. Emma provides guidance on topics including, does the final order in a divorce/dissolution end my financial ties, what is a clean break order, is a clean break order always made and more. 

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