A reminder of why a clean break order is critical when divorcing

Few people realise that unless they have a specific clean break court order when they divorce, there is a serious risk of their former spouse making a financial claim against them – often years after the divorce has been finalised.

Thinking and planning long-term is vital – because just filing for divorce never guarantees a clean break. Regardless of how amicable the parting is, it is vital that all financial matters are finalised at the time of the divorce.  

A formal agreement, known as a consent order or a clean break order, sets out any financial agreement in the divorce process. It is particularly important for business owners, or anyone planning to set up a company post-divorce – because it formally dismisses the right for either party to ask for money or a share of assets in the future.

An ex-partner coming back to haunt their ex is particularly common when the fortunes of a former spouse has changed for the better. You may recall the case where the ex-wife of a former new-age traveller, who went on to become a successful wind farmer, successfully brought a claim for financial support more than 20 years after their divorce because there was no clean break order.

Significantly, it is not just the ex-husband or wife who can be affected – and not just in their lifetime. Former spouses can petition estates – affecting children who were not even thought of at the time of the divorce. In another recent case, the former wife of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia was awarded £20 million.

You don’t have to have anything approaching that sort of wealth to be vulnerable, but the case illustrates that if even the House of Saud can be pursued successfully, anyone can.

If you are already married, it would be worth considering a post-nuptial agreement to protect any new business ventures. It is always advisable to seek the professional advice of a respected family lawyer.

If you have any queries about clean break orders or divorce related issues please leave a comment below, call the Jones Myers team on 0113 246 0055, or tweet us on @helpwithdivorce.

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