It is a sad fact that nearly half of all marriages in the UK end in divorce.
That’s around 120,000 divorces each year – not a pretty picture. Many divorces end up in expensive court battles, because of disagreements as to how the assets should be divided up, or the amount of spousal maintenance to be paid. But it doesn’t have to come to that. A clean break divorce could be the answer.
Do the wise thing
A clean break divorce settlement cuts the financial ties between a married couple. Whilst getting a divorce ends a marriage, it doesn’t necessarily finalise the money side of a relationship.
Agreeing to a divorce settlement is one thing, but unless you enter into an agreement known as a Consent Order and also apply for a Clean Break Order, your ex-spouse could claim a portion of your income, assets, pensions, or property in the future.
A sad but true story
When Norman XXX won nearly £60m in the Euro Millions a few years ago, he’d been divorced for close to ten years. Unfortunately for him, at the time of the divorce, he and his wife decided against a ‘clean break’. He believed obtaining a divorce was the end of the matter and soon remarried. His former wife did not remarry and when she heard about his windfall, she applied to the courts for a share of his lottery pay-out … and won!
A simple Clean Break Order would have prevented her from receiving any part of his winnings. Instead, he ended up paying £2 million in an out-of-court settlement. So, beware!
Without a Clean Break Order in place, if you receive an inheritance, or are promoted to a better-paying job, your ex could, at some time in the future, claim a share of this new income.
The procedures for a Clean Break Order are very straightforward and in most cases the two divorcing parties don’t even have to attend court.
How a clean break order works
The settlement of finances in a divorce is finalised only once the court has approved either a Clean Break Order, a Consent Order or a Financial Order.
A clean break settlement is by mutual agreement, whereas a Financial Order is court ordered in cases when a couple can’t agree on the division of assets.
A clean break settlement only creates financial independence between ex-spouses – child maintenance claims are unaffected by clean break divorce arrangements.
A clean break divorce conclusively resolves issues and is almost impossible to alter at a later date. No matter what happens in the future – receiving an inheritance, a pay out of shares, or the proceeds of the sale of a business – your ex-spouse cannot legally claim a portion.
And there would be no question, whatsoever, of amending what was agreed at the time the clean break settlement was put in place via the Consent Order.
Clean Break Order – think twice
Going through a divorce is a very stressful time and you may not want to bother with a Clean Break Order because you don’t have much in the way of assets or cash. But that’s right now – who knows what might happen in the future.
You could come into a lot of money, and if you don’t have a Clean Break Order, your ex could approach the courts to claim a big, juicy chunk of it!
Future proof yourself
After a divorce, relationships can change drastically. Everything at the time of the divorce may have been fairly amicable, and you eased through the divorce proceedings. Because of this, you decided that a clean break order was not necessary.
However, if you or your ex begins a new relationship, or your ex suddenly has financial difficulties for one reason or another, it is easy for the relationship to become strained, which may leave the door open for a claim to be brought.
Speak to your solicitor
At the outset of your divorce proceedings, it’s best consult with a specialist divorce solicitor – you don’t want to risk your assets or your pension pot for the sake of a few hundred pounds.
This does not necessarily mean that proceedings have to be hard-fought, or hotly contested. Both parties can reach an agreement in respect of financial matters, and this can (and should) be drafted into the Clean Break Order.
It’s not a good idea to leave financial claims for another day, because without a clear court order, an ex-partner may make financial claims a few years down the road if your circumstances change.
Even if you have little or no assets now, get a Clean Break Order so that going forward there are no surprises! If you’re going through a divorce, remind yourself that a Clean Break Order is the best insurance policy you can buy!