A small price to pay for peace of mind

Karen Brookes, a lawyer with local law firm Wosskow Brown, explains why short-cuts are definitely not to be advised when a couple makes the traumatic decision to get divorced.

When a marriage has broken down and both parties have agreed to divorce, the most difficult issue to resolve after custody of any children is the financial settlement. Many people are under the false impression that they can save money by sorting out the finances themselves and that what they agree will be legally binding.

This is not the case. There are all too many examples of couples taking what they think is a short cut by ‘doing it themselves’ and then having to go to court to resolve a dispute. This will obviously be far more costly than taking the correct legal steps in the first place.

People may have heard in the news about Nigel Page who won £56m in the Euro Millions draw. He had been divorced for 10 years but because he and his ex-wife didn’t bother to get a Clean Break Order, he had to pay her £2 million from his winnings in an out-of-court settlement. An expensive oversight!

A Clean Break Order is the only way of making sure that the financial settlement after a divorce is legally binding for ever. It does exactly what it says on the tin; it means that if you do win millions in the Lottery or inherit a fortune from a long-lost uncle, your ex-spouse won’t be entitled to any of it. Without a Clean Break your ex-partner can claim a share of any new assets, even if you’ve been divorced for many years.

Not having a Clean Break also means that any financial arrangements you make are not legally enforceable. So if your former spouse agreed to pay you a cash lump sum when you divorced but later refuses, you can’t force them to pay up without going to court.

Many people also don’t realise that if they are the respondent in a divorce and don’t sort out the finances by the time they remarry, they could be barring themselves from making a claim in the future with regard to some of the matrimonial assets.

So how does a Clean Break Order work in practice? It simply means that the financial agreement made by the divorcing couple is submitted to the court and made legally binding. This agreement will normally cover things like division of capital (such as savings or pensions), child maintenance payments and arrangements for the ownership of the shared home.

At Wosskow Brown we understand how important it is for couples to know what they are spending at this difficult and potentially expensive time. It’s why we offer fixed fee packages for both divorce and Clean Break Orders, with the latter costing as little as £400 plus VAT. You’ll find it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind that will last a lifetime.

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