When can I get a Clean Break and What Happens if I don’t get one?
A clean break typically refers to a legal agreement made between divorcing couples that ensures that all financial ties between them are severed, and neither party can make any future financial claims against the other. So, today’s question is, “When can I get a clean break and what happens if I don’t get one?”
A clean break can only be achieved if both parties agree to the terms of the agreement and there are no outstanding financial matters to resolve. This can include issues such as property division, spousal maintenance and pension sharing.
With that agreement in place, you can have a consent order drafted and sent to the courts for approval. A consent order is usually preferred over an informal agreement because it provides greater legal certainty and protection for both parties. If one party fails to comply with the terms of the order, the other party can take legal action to enforce it.
What is a Clean Break Consent Order?
As the name suggests, it is an order by consent, in other words, you have both agreed to the contents of the agreement. You can reach a financial agreement in one of 11 ways, one of those is Family Mediation. Family mediation is the Government’s and the court’s preferred method of dispute resolution. It replaces the need for going to court and allows both parties to have more control over the outcome. Research shows that couples are more likely to be satisfied with the results and stick to the agreement. Any agreement reached in mediation can also be made legally binding.
A consent order can only be requested when you are getting divorced. You cannot get one if you are or were co-habiting. It is the only way to legally protect each of your assets and any financial agreement you have. It provides certainty for the future and makes any agreement you have legally binding.
Find out more about our cost-effective fixed fee consent order package HERE.
What Happens if I don’t get a clean break?
If you do not get a clean break, it can leave you vulnerable to future financial claims by your former spouse, even after the divorce has been finalised.
They may be able to make claims on any assets you acquire after the divorce. For example, if you were to receive an inheritance or win the lottery after your divorce, they could argue that they are entitled to a share of these assets because, without a clean break order, you are still financially tied to them – even many years after your divorce has been completed.
Similarly, if you were to re-marry and acquire new assets with your new spouse, your ex could make a claim on these assets if you did not have a clean break in place. This could potentially lead to ongoing legal battles and financial uncertainty, which could be emotionally and financially draining, making it difficult for you to move on with your life.
A clean break will ensure that your financial ties between you are clearly defined and finalized and that you can move forward with your life knowing that there are no more lingering obligations or entanglements.
Will ongoing Spousal Maintenance or Child Maintenance payments prevent me from obtaining a clean break?
A clean break means that both parties’ finances are completely separated, and there are no ongoing financial obligations or entitlements. The two main areas that come into question here are Child Maintenance and Spousal Maintenance. The other one we will touch on is a Mesher Order. Let’s take a closer look.
Spousal maintenance refers to a payment made by one former partner to the other, either the husband or the wife, to provide ongoing financial support to the other. It is typically paid on a monthly or annual basis and can continue for a fixed period of time or, less often, indefinitely. Spousal maintenance is often used when one spouse earns significantly less than the other, or when one spouse gave up their career to raise the children.
If one party is receiving spousal maintenance, it means that there is an ongoing financial obligation between the parties, which will prevent a clean break.
In some instances, couples may agree for the spousal maintenance to be paid in a lump sum payment, rather than having ongoing payments. A lump sum payment is a one-time payment made by one party to the other as part of the financial settlement. This option will allow you to obtain a clean break. However, the decision to agree to a lump sum payment or ongoing spousal maintenance will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.
Child maintenance is a separate area of law that deals with financial support for children. It is governed by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), which calculates the amount of maintenance that should be paid based on the non-resident parent’s income.
Child maintenance is separate from spousal maintenance and financial settlements, and it does not affect a clean break settlement. This is because child maintenance is paid for the benefit of the child and not the ex-spouse. Both parties have a legal obligation to support their children financially, and this obligation will continue even after a clean break consent order is made.
Agreeing to a Mesher order – where one party holds a beneficial interest in a property until it is sold at a later date – may also mean you cannot get a clean break. Legal advice is important in such options as there may be other options to agree a fair deal on your property.
In summary, obtaining a clean break consent order can provide certainty and finality for both parties, as it brings to a close all financial ties between them. This legally binding document ensures that all financial matters and arrangements are resolved, leaving no room for future disputes or claims.
While there may be some upfront costs associated with obtaining a clean break, the long-term benefits in terms of financial security and peace of mind can be worth the investment now. It allows individuals to focus on rebuilding their lives and pave the way for a brighter and more independent future.