Clean break and a short marriage – How the court will look at a case

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Picture of an egg with clean break

Short marriage with clean break?

Where a marriage has been short and there are no children a Financial Clean Break Order may be ordered by the court.

If there have been children born during the marriage it may be considered reasonable that she should be able to support herself within a certain period of time – in this instance a fixed term maintenance payment order may be made to allow the wife time to train and get decent employment.

The court may consider that young couples are more able to borrow money than older couples and, as such, when deciding lump sum and property transfer orders, a young husband would be expected to transfer his interest in the matrimonial home to his wife so that she may look after the children there, allowing him to raise capital on the mortgage to enable him to purchase alternative accommodation.

However with lending being very tight and many people being in or close to negative equity, this may not always be an option and the Judge may not be able to order a clean break.

If the marriage has been short and there are no children, parties can, as a general rule, expect to leave the marriage with whatever  assets they brought to the marriage.  So, a deposit on a jointly bought house may be returned to the spouse that put in the money to buy the house, with the rest of any equity being shared.

However, if one party to the short marriage has made significant sacrifices to get married, such as giving up a career or property, then this may mean the court will need to address more generous provision for that spouse on divorce.

The case of M v M (Short Marriage: Clean Break) [2005] EWHC 528 (Fam) a 2005 case dealt with this very situation.

If there are children of a short marriage, the parent who has care of them is likely to find their ability to achieve financial independence held back for a number of years and, as such, the length of the marriage will be less significant in the court’s ruling.

Pre-marital cohabitation and financial settlement on divorce
Where parties have lived together in a settled relationship for a long time, this period of cohabitation should be considered by the court, even if the actual marriage duration was short.

For advice on whether a clean break would be suitable for you please call us on 01793 393 017

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Mark Keenan

About Mark Keenan

Editor of the Divorce Online blog

  • jenny shelford says:

    Hi i have been married approx 6 years, and lived with my husband 2 years before that, we have no children, my husband pays the rent, and bills i pay for food, petrol, clothes etc.

    We are now in rented accommadation, but we did have our own property for 2 years which has now been sold, i was given 2,000 by my husband when the house was sold just as pockert money, i dont know anything about the rest of the money but her tells me we have isas somewhere. i work parttime earning approx £120 per week, and i get a pension of £430 per month, i cannot find a full time job, and being 61 years old that now seems a inpossability. i am thinking of leaving the marriage, please could you tell me where i stand financially. thanks you

    • Mark Keenan Mark Keenan says:

      Divorce law starts with the basis of equality and then will look at the needs of the parties. As you are 61, you are not going to realistically be able to completely support yourself through work. My advice is to go and get some advice from a local Solicitor. You will be ellegible for legal aid but you must do this quickly as no new applications can be taken on after April 1st.

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