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End of a marriage and the clean break order

It may seem inopportune to think about divorce before the wedding has even taken place but when contemplating the future many couples attempt to protect themselves financially in manifold ways without thinking about the possible end of their marriage. They buy insurance policies and plan pensions, but many neglect to protect their wealth in the event of relationship breakdown.

Family solicitors can help couples negotiate prenuptial agreements which will protect the parties to the marriage and, in certain cases, it can be wise to stipulate that the spouses will seek a clean break order on divorce; meaning that the financial settlement on divorce will attempt to sever all financial ties the couple has to each other.

The present approach by family courts, when dealing with the end of a marriage, is to seek a clean break order for the former spouses. Lord Scarman in Minton v Minton said that modern law should encourage the divorcing parties to “put the past behind them and to begin a new life which is not overshadowed by the relationship which has broken down”.

Thus, instead of ongoing spousal maintenance, a wife, for instance, may seek a lump sum payment from her husband on divorce and when this is paid it will signal the end of any other financial commitment.

In certain cases, periodical payments may be ordered by the court, but it will consider a set length of time for such payments to be made, assuming that when the schedule has been completed the recipient party will have had sufficient time to ensure their own ability to support themselves.

Marriage and clean break orders – two types of settlement

Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA) there are two types of clean break order – an immediate clean break, as in section 25A(1) MCA and a delayed clean break as in section 25A(2) MCA.

The court’s overriding concern will be in creating ‘fairness’ in any financial order and certain discretions may be applied when all issues have been examined. The existence of a well-drafted and correctly-signed prenuptial agreement may be taken into consideration by a court, particularly where pre-marriage assets were disparate.

Marital property agreements before marriage and clean break orders

If you wish to talk to a family lawyer in Chichester about drafting a prenuptial agreement, or the possibility of seeking a clean break settlement on divorce, then the team at George Ide is here to help.

We have many years’ experience in representing clients during the delicate negotiations required when drawing up a prenuptial agreement. We can also advise on whether the inclusion of a clause for a clean break settlement would be appropriate.

Or, if you are currently undergoing divorce, our team of divorce solicitors can be on your side to represent you in the making or defending of a financial claim.

For more advice and information please call the family law team in our Chichester ofiice. We are here to help.