Clean Break Orders Explained – Why You Need One After Divorce
What Is a Clean Break Order?
A clean break settlement ensures that all financial ties between spouses or partners are severed, providing a clear division of assets after divorce or dissolution, and preventing any claims against your income or assets in the future.
The main aim of a clean break order is to ensure that both parties can move forward with their lives and be financially independent of one another without ongoing financial obligations, such as spousal maintenance.
To achieve a clean break divorce, a financial court order, such as a consent order must be drafted. This legal document must include precise language with signatures from both parties provided before the subsequent court approval.
Once the clean break financial order is approved by the court you’ll be protected from any claims being made on any future assets you may acquire including inheritance or significant windfalls, e.g. lottery wins.
What is the purpose of a clean break financial order?
The purpose of a financial clean break order is to show the court that both parties can live financially separately from each other and that neither party wishes to make financial claims against the other in the future.
When filing for divorce, the last stage is to apply for a divorce final order (previously called a decree absolute) and once this is granted you are no longer legally married and are free to remarry if you wish.
Applicants can only ask the court to approve their financial clean break once the Conditional Order has been granted in divorce proceedings; meaning that you cannot get a clean break divorce without being at the interim stage of the divorce process.
Naturally, you want to move on with your life and be financially independent of your ex-spouse.
This however is not possible, unless both parties have agreed to a financial order to sever all financial ties. Many couples don’t understand the need for financial disclosure in order for a Judge to make a decision.
Unfortunately, many couples in their desire to have a quick divorce often overlook this crucial step, and the importance of a financial court order cannot be overstated.
Is a clean break divorce suitable for everyone?
The nature and extent of the assets and liabilities, including property, savings, pensions, and debts, can influence whether a clean break order is appropriate.
A clean break order is more likely to be considered when both parties have roughly equal financial resources or when it’s possible to fairly divide the assets and responsibilities.
If one spouse requires ongoing financial support, such as spousal maintenance due to a significant income disparity or other circumstances, a clean break order may not be appropriate.
The length of the marriage or civil partnership can also play a role in determining whether a clean break is appropriate. In shorter marriages, it may be easier to achieve a clean break since there are fewer shared assets and financial ties.
If the divorcing couple has children, it’s important to understand that parental obligations, such as child maintenance, continue regardless of whether a clean break is reached. You can never get a clean break for your children.
A clean break is not automatically granted after a divorce. The goal is to create a financial arrangement that is fair and suitable for the individuals involved.
Legal advice from a family law solicitor can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of divorce and financial settlements.
Why you must consider a clean break order after divorce
In realistic terms, your ex-spouse could make a financial claim against you anytime in the future, unless they have remarried, which severely limits their claims.
So if they don’t remarry, it doesn’t matter whether you were divorced 5 years or 25 years ago, they can still claim against you.
However, relying on your former spouse to get remarried instead of getting a clean break settlement approved by the court is risky as the following examples highlight:
- Wyatt vs Vince – Dale Vince built up a highly successful green energy business (Estimated to be worth £57M) but he was made by the court to pay his ex-wife £300,000 after being divorced for 20 years.
- Nigel Page who, after winning £56M on the EuroMillions, had to pay his former spouse £2 million in an out-of-court settlement after being divorced for 11 years.
In both of these cases, it appears as though no financial clean break order was obtained due to the couples ‘having no assets’ to divide.
The way you sever your financial ties and prevent future financial claims following a divorce is to obtain a financial court order.
This is done by applying to the court for either a clean break order or a consent order.
The best time to address your financial separation is alongside your divorce proceedings after a Judge grants the conditional order, but if you haven’t it’s not too late.
You can still get a clean break financial order any time after your divorce to say that you’ve now arranged your financial settlement and that you’d like to sever all future financial ties with your ex-spouse.
What happens if my ex won’t sign a clean break order?
Fortunately, there are various options available if your ex won’t sign a clean break order after the divorce.
If your former spouse isn’t cooperating and won’t sign a financial order to end your financial ties, the first thing you should do is seek advice from a family law solicitor.
Whilst you have options available, you need to make sure that you choose the best option for your specific circumstances.
Fundamentally, clean break orders are always quicker and far cheaper than ancillary relief proceedings (contested) but will very much depend on how cooperative your ex-husband or wife is.
Generally, it’s recommended you exhaust every other option first, starting with mediation, before involving the court.
Form d81 example for a clean break order
If you want to see the type of information you need to provide the court with to finanlise a financial order such as a clean break, here is an example.
To help the court decide whether the financial and property arrangements you’ve made are fair, both parties are required to complete the form d81 statement of information.
The new 23-page form d81 for a consent order outlines the parties’ financial situation to a Judge.
Even if you have no assets to separate, parties must explain why the clean break is fair and how the parties will meet their own income needs in the future.
Advantages of clean break orders
There are essentially two types of financial court orders that you can obtain from the court, a clean break order and a consent order.
As a rule, a clean break order is more suitable for cases where there are limited or no joint assets within a short marriage. Another significant factor that the courts will consider is whether there were any children from the marriage.
In both of these cases, the court may agree that each person should leave the marriage with what they brought into it, with the aim of restoring each party to the same financial position they enjoyed before they got married.
Because the length of marriages can vary, the court will look at each case individually, but short marriages are generally considered to be those of under five years and where the parties cohabited for a limited period of time before getting married.
To obtain a clean break order each party needs to provide a short-form financial disclosure and a summary of the assets they brought to the marriage. Within a clean break order, each party agrees not to claim against the other party’s pension or to make a claim for spousal maintenance.
A short childless marriage usually allows both spouses to achieve a clean break divorce.
Once a clean break order is approved by the court you’ll be protected from any claims being made on any future assets that you may acquire. This includes any inheritance or significant windfalls.
Disadvantages of a clean break order
Due to the nature of longer marriages, those over five years, it’s very difficult to achieve a clean break as there are more likely to be children in the marriage and a range of finances to deal with to ensure a fair division of assets is reached.
These usually include ongoing financial commitments like a spousal and/or child maintenance order and the division of pensions, property, investments & savings.
In these situations, a clean break order won’t be an option and instead, a consent order would be required.
For longer marriages, a financial consent order drafted by a solicitor that contains a clean break clause and also includes provisions and clauses for future payments would be required to formalise any financial settlement.
The consent order will record all obligations agreed upon between both parties, and as with the clean break order, once a consent order is approved by the court you’ll be protected from any claims made on any future assets that you may acquire.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do both parties have to agree to a clean break order?
Yes, both parties must agree to a clean break order. If you cannot agree between you then you may need the help of the courts to resolve the matter.
Is a clean break order the same as a consent order?
Clean break orders and consent orders are both types of court orders that can be obtained during divorce proceedings, but each is used slightly differently.
A clean break order is suitable for divorcing couples who have limited or no joint assets and have no children from the marriage.
A consent order is a legal document that formally records any financial agreement reached between both parties, allowing couples to legally split assets such as property, savings, and pensions.
For example, if one spouse is to receive a lump sum of money as a way for the husband or wife to retain their pension fund or house, you would be required to document this in a financial order before having it approved by a court.
How much does a clean break order cost?
To file a clean break order application you need to pay court fees, which currently stand at £53 for a financial agreement. The fee is set by the government and is in addition to our service fee highlighted below.
The application fee is paid when you submit your financial order paperwork to the court.
The cost of a clean break can vary between £400 and £3,000 depending on the specifics of your case, where you live, and the firm you select to assist you.
If your circumstances are suitable for a clean break, you can get started online. Since the introduction of no-fault divorce, financial remedy applications can be filed online through the government portal.
Clean Break Financial Order Service for £399
You don’t need to spend thousands of pounds hiring local solicitors if you have agreed to obtain a clean break order following your divorce. We provide an affordable fixed-fee service to secure your finances without breaking the bank on solicitors’ fees!