Divorce may end the marriage, but it does not end the financial rights of spouses. To do that requires a ‘clean break’ Order dismissing those rights.
What is a Clean Break Order?
Although it may not feel like there can be a ‘clean break’ when there is ongoing child support, a ‘clean break’ only refers to the spousal rights which can be dismissed by agreement. If you have children who have not finished education, there may be an ongoing obligation to provide a level of financial support for that child, but the rights of adults, both present and future can be terminated.
That is what a ‘clean break’ means and after a clean break dismissing all the rights that came from the marriage (and property rights) the couple can go forward without looking over their shoulders to see if their former spouse is looking to make a claim for a share of their capital, income or pension.
Without a ‘clean break’ order there is always the possibility that a former spouse falling on hard times, feeling resentful or just being greedy can re-open financial arrangements and ask the court to look at the finances by making an application for a financial remedy – even if an informal ‘deal’ was agreed at separation or divorce.
Even if people want to agree support for a limited time, that can still form part of a ‘clean break’ order – we call that a ‘deferred clean break’ as the termination of rights of support can be delayed by that agreed period.
All of the assets at the time of the application can be considered for sharing, even if the financial situation is very different from when people got divorced.
What is a Consent Order?
A court can order a clean break if it makes a decision about the finances after divorce but most clean breaks are part of a Consent Order which is where the spouses have their agreement approved by a judge and thereby made ‘final’. There is a process for having the agreement approved by the court and made into an Order. We call them ‘consent orders’ because they are agreed and not imposed on the spouses and the judge must be satisfied that they are fair as well as being agreed. There must be ‘informed consent’ to the Order which will be final.
It is most unusual for final court orders to be re-opened, unlike informal agreements which must be looked at and evaluated against all the criteria for being upheld, even if the claim is many years after divorce. A court Order cannot easily be challenged and the starting point is that it should be upheld – it is very difficult to re-open an order years later, but an informal agreement does not block an application to the court and it can be expensive to defend an unwarranted ‘second bite of the cherry’.
Major Family Law has many years’ experience of framing deals in such a way as to have them made into court orders and giving our clients peace of mind that there is finality.
How do I apply for one?
Major Family Law are the north east’s leading boutique family law firm and can provide you with the advice and representation that you need throughout every step of your divorce. We can apply to a judge for a Clean Break or Consent Order on your behalf.
If you are unable to apply for a Clean Break Order, or the Judge rejects your application (for example, if your partner cannot work due to caring for your children and as such you are required to pay spousal maintenance), there are a multitude of alternative financial solutions available. You can discuss this with your Major Family Law divorce solicitor. Get in touch today for your FREE 45-minute initial consultation with a leading north east family law firm.
Getting divorced is complicated, and money is extremely sensitive in these circumstances; our friendly and compassionate team of divorce solicitors can help take away the pressures and strain from the process. They can provide you with the expert legal advice that you need when looking at your future financial situation. Please call 01661 824582 today for help implementing a Clean Break Order and support throughout the entire divorce process.