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What is a clean break?

May 21, 2018

When two people decide that they no longer want to be in a relationship, the ideal scenario is that they each go their separate ways. They move on with their lives. And they build a future that leaves their past behind.                                          

Things don’t always work out that way. The reality of marriage is that it generates legal, emotional and financial ties, some of which are difficult to undo. That is especially so where there are children of the relationship; where that’s the case, divorcing parents usually have to maintain some sort of ongoing association.

As family lawyers we recognise the significance of, and benefits that come from, the parties achieving a capital and income clean break. That is an arrangement that sees a firm line being drawn under the marriage. It provides for a fair financial settlement (perhaps one party gets to keep the house and/or is given a lump sum payment) that marks the end of dependency on each other. It helps the lower earner get by in life, and adjust to their new circumstances.

These arrangements typically wrap up one party’s entitlement to share in the other’s income (perhaps by way of a capitisation of spousal maintenance) pension, and other assets. The husband and wife will give or take the agreed amount of money and other physical possessions, and that will be that. And once a clean break order is in place, neither will be able to claim any more from the other, either during their ex-spouse’s lifetime or after their death.

What about children? A clean break arrangement applies to the husband and wife (also to civil partners). It’s separate from the financial provisions that must be made and maintained in relation to children. Ongoing maintenance payments and other responsibilities that will be owed to dependant children are dealt with separately; great care is taken at all stages of the divorce or dissolution process and beyond to ensure that children are as protected as possible from the negative aspects.

Whether or not a clean break is right for you will depend on your circumstances. It won’t always be the right move, and it won’t always be possible, but it will be an important consideration as you embark on formal separation.  Talking things through with your family law solicitor will help you reach the right conclusion and achieve the best outcome.  For more information please contact Sandra Machin or Jenny Peebles on family@bsandi.co.uk


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