How do I apply for a clean break order?


The above was a recent Google search query which found its way to this blog. Unfortunately, the landing page did not really answer the question, so I though I would do so here.

Before I do, however, I should explain exactly what a clean break order is, and why you need one.

As explained in my Glossary, a clean break order is a financial remedies order dismissing all, or all further, claims of a financial nature by either party against the other, including maintenance claims, so that thereafter neither party can apply to the court for any further financial orders against the other.

The purpose of the order is obviously to bring finality. Without it, it would still, theoretically at least, be possible for a financial claim to be made many years after the divorce, for example after a change (for better or worse) in the financial circumstances of either party. Obviously, no one wants their former spouse coming back for more years later!

And so it is recommended that a clean break order be obtained.

Note that any final financial remedies order can include a clean break. The order may, for example, provide that one party pay a lump sum to the other and that upon such payment all other claims are dismissed. However, this post is really just referring to the situation where the parties have agreed to not make any claims against the other, and therefore just want an order setting out the clean break only.

So what is involved in getting a clean break order?

Well, three things essentially:

1. A draft of the order, signed by both parties, or their solicitors, plus two copies. Unfortunately, the order really should be prepared by a qualified lawyer - even an apparently simple order involves potential pitfalls. There are standard family court orders available online, but I wouldn't recommend anyone without a legal training to attempt to use them.

2. A Form D81 'Statement of information for a consent order in relation to a financial remedy'. The purpose of this form is essentially to give the court a few brief details about the financial circumstances of both parties, so that it can assess whether the order it is being asked to make is broadly reasonable (the court is not obliged to make the order simply because both parties agree to it). You can find a Form D81 here.

3. The appropriate court fee, currently £50.

All of these should then be sent to the court (solicitors can file them online). A judge will then check the papers. If they are satisfied, they will make the order and send a sealed copy to each party, or their lawyers. If they are not satisfied, they may ask for further information, before they make the order. As indicated above, if they are still not satisfied they may refuse to make the order, although this is unusual. For further information, see this post.