What Is The Difference Between A Clean Break Order And A Consent Order?

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By Victoria Richardson - 7th December 2021

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Clean Break Orders and Consent Orders are types of court order that can be issued during divorce proceedings. They allow you to sever the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse, although each one is used in slightly different circumstances.

Decree Absolute doesn’t end your financial commitments

When you get a divorce, the final stage is to apply to court for a Decree Absolute. Once this is issued, you are no longer legally married and you are both free to marry other people.

But did you know that a Decree Absolute doesn’t end the financial ties between you and your ex-spouse?

Not everyone knows this. Most people think that a Decree Absolute severs all links with their ex-husband or wife. Actually, this isn’t true (although it is a common misconception). While a Decree Absolute legally ends your marriage, it does not end your financial obligations to one another. In practical terms, this means that your ex-spouse could make a financial claim against you in the future, provided he/she doesn’t remarry. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been divorced for five years or 25 years – they could still ask for more money from you.

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What can I do?

But don’t worry: there are ways to stop this from happening. The most important thing is that you address your finances alongside your divorce proceedings. You can then get a court order to say that you’ve arranged your financial settlement and that you’d like cut all further financial ties. There are two types of court order available:

  1. A Clean Break Order
  2. A Consent Order

If you cannot reach an agreement, then there is a third option, which is to resolve the matter through the courts.

It is worth noting that you should get a court order, even if you and your ex-spouse don’t have any substantial assets to your name. This is because those financial ties will still exist in the future, by which time you may have received a hefty inheritance or enjoyed a successful career. So, failing to get a financial order could impact on any future wealth.

What is a Clean Break Order?

A Clean Break Order is issued by the court and severs all financial ties between you and your spouse. A Clean Break Order is particularly useful for those who don’t have many assets to divide, but still want to end the financial ties between them.

When a Clean Break Order is approved, you’ll be protected from any further claims being made on any future assets that you acquire. This includes any potential inheritance or significant windfall.

However, a Clean Break Order won't be an option if there are ongoing financial commitments, such as a Spousal Maintenance Order. If this is the case, then the court can decide to defer the clean break until the end of the maintenance term.

Also, if you have a significant amount of assets to divide, then a Consent Order would be a better option.

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What is a Consent Order?

A Consent Order is a document that formally records any financial agreement reached between both parties. A Consent Order can include a clean break clause, meaning it functions in much the same way as a Clean Break Order.

Consent Orders must be approved by the courts. Once approved, it is ‘sealed’, meaning it is legally binding. Because of this, you need to ask a divorce solicitor to prepare your Consent Order. That way, you can be sure that you understand the agreement before signing.

A Consent Order will record all (if any) obligations between the parties, to include ongoing maintenance, property and pension.

What if an agreement cannot be reached?

If you and your ex cannot reach a financial agreement, you may have to go to Court to resolve matters. This can be a lengthy process, and one that may not guarantee an outcome either person is happy with!

If you need advice following separation and wish to discuss your circumstances, give our friendly team a call today. Our Family Law Solicitors are here to help.

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