When hearing a financial settlement on divorce claim, the main aim for family judges is always to facilitate the ending of any monetary claim that one spouse will have upon the other.
Section 25A of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 states that the court has a duty to decide whether it should exercise its right to order a clean break settlement – to ensure “that the financial obligations of each party towards the other will be terminated as soon after the grant of the decree as the court considers just and reasonable”.
Once a Clean Break order is made by a family court it will not hear any further financial claims, even when one of the spouses dies.
A clean break settlement will usually only be suitable to determine the financial claim between a couple with no dependent children especially where there is little or no independent wealth or assets. Where there are young children of a marriage or civil-partnership, the court will need to ensure that their financial welfare is taken care of and any ancillary relief claim will reflect this.
However, if both spouses/parents are independently wealthy or have significant assets and they agree upon a fair division of their finances, as long as there is a suitable child maintenance schedule in place, a court may be able to utilise the Clean Break Order so that further claims on each spouse’s wealth are prohibited.
Even where there are no dependent children, a couple still may not be able to negotiate a clean break as any division of assets has to yield enough to ensure that each party to the divorce leaves the union with enough to live on.
If circumstances are such that one party has no earning potential, or their ability to earn a viable sum is much less than that of the other spouse, then, to facilitate a clean break the court would require a substantial lump-sum or portion of assets to be transferred to that spouse, so that their needs are met.
Family law courts will look at each financial settlement on divorce claim on an individual basis and, as of yet, there are no hard and fast rules about who gets what in a disputed claim for ancillary relief. Our experienced solicitors will quickly be able to tell you whether a Clean Break Order would be suitable for your circumstances and can advise you as to how best facilitate this.
Our divorce solicitors will listen sensitively to your circumstances and offer legal advice to ensure your best interests at all times. We believe in delivering a dependable, committed and cost-effective service and will, wherever necessary, robustly defend or pursue your claim by means of litigation.
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