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A Simple Guide to Clean Break Orders

Thursday May 12, 2022

At AFG Law we understand that dealing with finances on divorce is difficult and confusing. You may have heard about ‘clean break orders’ and that it is really important to achieve a ‘clean break’ when you divorce.


We know you may be getting a lot of advice from friends, family members and colleagues  who are trying to support you; but sometimes what is right for one divorcing couple might not be right for you and your situation.


You may have been told to make sure you get a clean break and whilst this is often the aim for most couples it will not work for everyone. Achieving a financial settlement on divorce is not a one size fits all and our specialist divorce solicitors can guide you through the process.


What is a clean break order?

A ‘clean break order’ is a financial settlement where the divorcing couple do not, or after a short time will not, have any ongoing financial responsibilities to each other at the end of the marriage. It means that neither spouse will have any further financial obligations to the other.


Do I need a clean break order?

It depends on your individual circumstances. Getting a clean break order isn’t always necessary.


Many couples may share their assets out straight away so that they can each become financially independent or, if this isn’t immediately possible, they may have short term measures to allow one spouse to receive ongoing support whilst they become financially independent.


If they are able to achieve this they can then have a ‘clean break’ and if this is possible then it should be the aim of the divorcing couple. However, for some people this is simply not possible and so the Family Court will look to the individual circumstances of the divorcing couple to see whether it is fair to have a clean break order.


When would a clean break order not be possible?

If the divorcing couple have children or it is a lengthy marriage then it may not be possible to achieve a clean break for many years unless there are enough assets to divide between the spouses and they have sufficient earning capacity to allow each spouse to be financially independent.


In financial proceedings does the court always direct a clean break order between divorcing couples?

There is no presumption in favour of there being a financial clean break between parties on divorce, the court is simply under a duty to consider whether it would be appropriate to exercise its powers in such a way as to end the financial obligations of parties towards each other.


Do I need a solicitor for a clean break order? Why?

If you reach a financial agreement directly with your spouse, or during mediation, our specialist divorce finance solicitors can help turn this into a legally enforceable order.


This step is important as it helps protect you in the future. A clean break order would only be legally recognised if it was included within a financial order. If you do not take this step then there is nothing to stop either spouse from making further claims against the other in the future.


Do both parties have to agree to a clean break order?

If this is a provision within a financial consent order then it would have to be agreed as a consent order can only be made if both parties agree. If it is part of a judgement given by a Judge sitting in the Financial Remedies Court following proceedings for a financial order then it does not have to be agreed and can be imposed on the parties.


Benefits of clean break orders

If a clean break order is in place between a divorcing couple it gives them certainty and financial security in the future as it is clear that neither of the spouses can make any further claims against the other.

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