Clean Break

Clean Break
Clean Break
Full Overview Of Clean Break

A “clean break” is a term often used in the context of divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership. It refers to a financial settlement where all financial ties between the parties are severed. This arrangement ensures neither party can make any future financial claims against the other. Clean break settlements are designed to provide clarity and finality, allowing both individuals to move forward independently. This comprehensive overview will explore the concept of clean break settlements, their legal framework, the processes involved, and their impact on financial independence post-divorce.

Purpose of Clean Break Settlements

The primary purpose of a clean break settlement is to provide both parties with a definitive end to their financial relationship. This arrangement aims to prevent future disputes or claims, enabling both individuals to achieve financial independence and stability.

Financial Independence

A clean break settlement ensures that both parties can move on with their lives without any ongoing financial obligations to each other. This independence is particularly important in allowing both individuals to plan and manage their finances without the uncertainty of future claims.

Finality and Certainty

By severing all financial ties, a clean break settlement provides finality and certainty to both parties. This legal closure is essential for emotional and financial stability, reducing the potential for future conflict and litigation.

The legal framework for clean break settlements is primarily governed by the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the Civil Partnership Act 2004. These pieces of legislation provide the foundation for financial settlements in divorce and civil partnership dissolution cases.

Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 outlines the principles that courts must consider when making financial orders on divorce. Section 25 of the Act sets out a range of factors that the court must consider, including the welfare of any children, each party’s income and earning capacity, and their financial needs and obligations. The Act also provides the legal basis for clean break settlements, allowing courts to make orders that terminate financial ties between the parties.

Civil Partnership Act 2004

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 provides a similar framework for dissolving civil partnerships. It mirrors the provisions of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, ensuring that financial settlements for civil partners are treated with the same considerations as those for married couples.

Processes Involved in Clean Break Settlements

The process of achieving a clean break settlement involves several stages, from initial negotiations to court approval. Each step is designed to ensure that the settlement is fair and meets the needs of both parties.

Initial Negotiations and Disclosure

The process typically begins with both parties providing full financial disclosure. This involves sharing details of all assets, liabilities, income, and expenditures. Full disclosure is essential to ensuring transparency and fairness in the negotiations.

During this stage, the parties (often with the assistance of their solicitors) negotiate the terms of the settlement. This can include discussions about the division of assets, such as property, savings, and pensions, as well as any spousal maintenance. The aim is to reach an agreement that is acceptable to both parties and provides a clean break.

Drafting the Consent Order

After reaching an agreement, the terms are put into a legal document called a consent order. This document outlines the financial settlement details and contains a clause preventing either party from making future financial claims against the other. It’s important to draft the consent order clearly and thoroughly to avoid any ambiguity.

Court Approval

The Consent Order must be submitted to the court for approval. The court will review the settlement terms to ensure that they are fair and reasonable. If satisfied, the court will approve the consent order, making it legally binding. Once the consent order is approved, the clean break settlement is finalised, and both parties are free from any future financial obligations to each other.

Impact and Effectiveness of Clean Break Settlements

Clean break settlements significantly impact the financial and emotional well-being of both parties. By providing clarity and closure, individuals can rebuild their lives independently.

Financial Security

One of the primary benefits of a clean break settlement is the financial security it provides. Both parties clearly understand their financial position and can plan for the future without the risk of unexpected claims. This security is particularly important for individuals who must budget and carefully manage their finances after a divorce.

Emotional Closure

Clean break settlements also provide emotional closure. The finality of the settlement allows both parties to move on without the stress and uncertainty of ongoing financial ties. This closure can be crucial for emotional healing and rebuilding one’s life after a divorce.

Reducing Conflict

Clean break settlements reduce the potential for future conflict by severing financial ties. Without the possibility of future claims, both parties can avoid disputes and litigation, fostering a more amicable post-divorce relationship.

Challenges and Considerations

While clean break settlements offer many benefits, they also present certain challenges and considerations. Ensuring that the settlement is fair and meets the needs of both parties can be complex, requiring careful negotiation and legal guidance.

Fairness and Equity

One key challenge in achieving a clean break settlement is ensuring that the agreement is fair and equitable. Both parties must feel that the division of assets and any spousal maintenance arrangements are reasonable. This can be particularly challenging in cases where there is a significant disparity in the parties’ financial positions.

Future Needs and Changes

Another thing to consider is the potential for changes in circumstances. A clean break settlement gives finality, but it doesn’t consider future changes in either party’s financial situation. For instance, major changes in income, health, or other personal circumstances can affect an individual’s financial needs. It’s important to take these possible changes into account when negotiating a clean break settlement.

Legal and Financial Advice

It is crucial to seek appropriate legal and financial advice during the clean break settlement process. Solicitors are essential in ensuring that the settlement terms are fair and legally sound. Financial advisors can also offer valuable guidance regarding the implications of the settlement, especially with regard to pensions and long-term financial planning.

Future Directions and Improvements

The landscape of family law and financial settlements is continually evolving, with ongoing efforts to improve the fairness and effectiveness of clean break settlements. Future directions and improvements focus on several key areas.

Mediation and Collaborative Law

Mediation and collaborative law are becoming increasingly popular as alternatives to traditional litigation. These approaches encourage cooperative negotiation and can lead to more amicable and mutually satisfactory clean break settlements. Promoting the use of mediation and collaborative law can help reduce conflict and improve outcomes for both parties.

Enhanced Legal Frameworks

Continual review and enhancement of the legal frameworks governing financial settlements can address emerging challenges and ensure that the law remains responsive to changing needs. This includes refining the criteria for achieving a fair settlement and providing clearer guidelines on spousal maintenance and the division of assets.

Financial Education and Support

Providing financial education and support to individuals going through a divorce can enhance their understanding of the implications of a clean break settlement. Financial literacy programmes and access to professional advice can empower individuals to make informed decisions and effectively plan for their financial future.

Technology and Digital Solutions

Advancements in technology offer new opportunities to streamline the clean break settlement process. Digital platforms can facilitate more efficient information sharing, financial disclosure, and negotiation. Online tools and resources can also provide valuable support and guidance to individuals navigating the complexities of financial settlements.


Clean break settlements are crucial to the UK’s family law system. They provide a clear and final end to financial ties between divorcing or separating parties, allowing individuals to achieve financial independence and move forward confidently.

While there are challenges, efforts to improve the process through mediation, legal reforms, financial education, and technology show promise for the future. The commitment to achieving fair and equitable settlements is central to the clean break framework, reflecting the broader societal responsibility to support individuals in rebuilding their lives after divorce.

Clean Break FAQ'S

A Clean Break Order is a court order in divorce proceedings that completely severs financial ties between the ex-spouses, preventing any future claims for maintenance, property, pensions, or other financial assets. This order ensures that both parties can become financially independent of each other.

A clean break order can be granted when the court is satisfied that both parties can reasonably support themselves without ongoing financial support from each other. It is typically considered when both parties have similar earning capacities or sufficient assets to be financially independent.

Yes, even if you have no significant financial assets, obtaining a Clean Break Order is advisable. It legally finalises the financial aspect of the divorce and prevents either party from making future financial claims against the other.

Yes, a Clean Break Order can include pension rights. As part of the clean break settlement, pensions can be divided through a pension sharing order, ensuring that both parties have a fair share of pension benefits without future claims.

While a Clean Break Order can sever financial ties between ex-spouses, it does not affect child maintenance obligations. Financial support for children remains separate and cannot be waived by a Clean Break Order.

The benefits of a Clean Break Order include financial independence, clarity, and certainty for both parties. It prevents future financial disputes and allows both parties to move forward without ongoing financial obligations to each other.

To apply for a Clean Break Order, you must reach a financial agreement with your ex-spouse and submit it to the court for approval. This is usually done using a Consent Order. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court can make a decision based on the evidence presented.

Once a Clean Break Order is made, it is generally final and cannot be reversed or modified. This finality is one of its main features, providing certainty and preventing future claims.

If one party hides assets during the Clean Break Order process and this is discovered later, the court can set aside the order and reconsider the financial settlement. Full and honest disclosure is required for the order to be valid.

While it is not a legal requirement, both parties should seek independent legal advice before agreeing to a Clean Break Order. This ensures that both parties fully understand the implications and that the agreement is fair and reasonable.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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