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/ 03 May 2024

What is a clean break order on divorce and do I need one?

You are divorcing and have reached an agreement with your spouse that neither of you will receive anything from the other. Is it okay just to walk away, or do you need a Clean Break Order?

Elinor Feeny


Family & Divorce

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What is a clean break order?

You should be aware that even after you are divorced you can remain tied to each other financially for years to come if your financial claims are not ended. This means that one of you make a claim against the other in the future if they remain open.

A Clean Break Order is essentially an order made, often at the time of divorce, which simply dismiss future claims for financial remedies and thereby prevents a husband and/or wife from making financial claims of any kind at any stage in the future. It is most suited when there are no joint assets or have agreed that neither party will receive anything from the other following the divorce. Usually these are short marriages and/or when there are no children involved.

There are 3 elements to a clean break:

  • Income – dismissing each other’s claims to income
  • Capital – dismissing each other’s claims to assets/pensions
  • Death – dismissing a claim against each other’s estate on death

How can a clean break order be made?

By consent (by way of a ‘Consent Order’)

This is when the Court is asked to approve an agreed Order dismissing financial claims between the parties.

Reaching an agreement in this way will hopefully allow you to avoid court hearings altogether. A solicitor will write and present the agreement reached (which is reflected in a Consent Order) on your behalf via the online court portal. There are no hearings to attend and the Consent Order will be considered by a Judge for approval. At the same time the court will consider a separate document known as a Statement of Information, which sets out the headline figures and the basis upon which the agreement has been reached. If the court accepts the terms as being suitable and fair, you can finalise the matter without the delays and the significant costs that often result from legal disputes.

By the court

If the parties cannot agree, then either of them can apply to the court for a judge to determine whether or not a clean break order should be made. However this is a costly process.

Why are Clean Break Orders Important?

The common and mistaken belief is that financial claims end when the Final Order on divorce (previously known as the Decree Absolute) is issued by the Court, but this is not the case. If a consent order has not been made, either party can ask the Court for financial orders to be made against the other, even years after they have divorced (if for example one party comes into a lot of money, wins the lottery, or inherits a large sum of money).

The case of Vince v Wyatt [2015] emphasised the importance of Clean Break orders. In this particular case, no financial order was made at the time of divorce, and the wife successfully persuaded the Supreme Court, some 20 years after she had separated from the husband, that she had a financial claim against him for a large lump sum payment.

How our divorce lawyers can help you

Clean break orders made by consent are a way for a divorcing couple to divide the marital assets fairly and to part ways for good, usually offering a simpler and more peaceful solution than court proceedings. Such orders allow the parties both security and finality and should be considered even where a divorce has been amicable. It is far easier to overturn an informal agreement than a legally binding financial order and so in order to ensure your peace of mind, a Clean Break Order is certainly an investment worth making.

Our family & divorce team at Hanne & Co can advise whether a clean break order is appropriate for you. To speak to one of the team please contact us on 0207 228 0017 or via the form below.


Send us a message

To discuss clean break orders, or any other family law matters contact our family & divorce team via the form below or by calling +44 (0) 207 228 0017. 

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