Getting a Clean Break Order ! What you should know!?
Liz Davies Family Lawyer
law firm, Divorce, family lawyers
I know there has been a lot of press coverage lately in respect of the Wyatt v Vince case that was before the Supreme Court on 11th March 2015 so I thought I would address the issue.
In 1981, the parties married. The husband treated the wife's daughter from a previous relationship as a child of the family. In 1983, their son was born. In 1984, the parties separated. Then began the husband's life as a traveller, which was to continue for approximately eight years. The wife struggled to maintain a home for the children in circumstances of real poverty. The husband's failure to pay maintenance reflected his inability to pay it. In 1992, a decree absolute was granted dissolving the marriage. The wife later had two more children with another man. In the late 1990s, the husband set up a company which had, at the time of these present proceedings, a value of £57m. Therefore, it was only in the final years of their son's minority that the husband was in a position to provide substantial maintenance for him. In 2001, the son went to live with the husband. The wife issued a claim in 2011 for financial orders including a lump sum order. The husband cross-applied to have the application struck out. Firstly in the county court (or Family Court now) the application by the wife was allowed and the husband's application was struck out. He was ordered to pay £125,000 to the wife's solicitors as a costs allowance. He appealed to the court of appeal which then struck out the wife's application and ordered her to repay the husband the monies he had paid her solicitors. She appealed to the Supreme Court who reinstated her application and costs allowance.
The matter is now to go back to a judge in the Family Division for a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing who will if the matter is not settled between the parties at that hearing set the matter down for a final hearing.
As you can see the matter is not over yet and certainly the wife has not "won" as the papers seem to indicate a large sum of money. That has yet to be determined by the Family Division.
The reason I have mentioned it is that as you can see even if you have been separated and divorced for a substantial period of time without an order of the court dismissing your financial claims that arise from your marriage they remain open to be pursued by way of formal application at any time in the future. There are situations where some of the claims are dismissed on remarriage but you need to speak to a family lawyer about that.
If the husband had obtained such an order at the time of their divorce then none of this would have happened. Some clients do say it is not necessary for an order "I trust him/her, she/he says she/he will not want anything from me" or "I don't want to spend any money on any order that's not necessary", but it is always a possibility. You do not know your future circumstances and neither does your former spouse but you can be assured that if you win or inherit or suddenly make good with your business they will be aware of that and it may be that they remember that they didn't receive anything when you divorced!!
Be sensible and tie up all loose ends, that way you can both go your merry ways with no concerns for the future rather than a fight in court that you did not expect.
If you want more information give me a call : 01584 700009.
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