Divorcing parties sometimes have no matrimonial finances to settle as the marriage has been short or they have not had the opportunity to build up any assets. In some circumstances both parties may have similar levels of income or simply do not want to claim maintenance from the other and would rather a clean break and go their separate ways.
In these types of cases it is prudent to enter into a clean break order. This formal document is filed at Court as part of the divorce process. It is signed by both parties and their legal representatives and is therefore binding. The most important component of a clean break consent order is the fact that it dismisses all future claims against each other, post Decree Absolute.
Without this, either party so long as they have not remarried, could make an application to Court for financial settlement despite having been divorced for some time.
An amicable divorce is of course preferable and therefore whilst matters are non-contentious it is important to draw a line under each and every element.
It is a common misconception that Divorce ends everything, unfortunately this is not true. I conducted a case whereby the parties during divorce agreed on settlement, one kept the house and the other the family business. The assets were split and the formal transfers were completed. At the time one thought it would be a good idea to write the terms down but the other thought it unnecessary. 5 years after the divorce when financial circumstances had drastically changed for one of them an application was made. The normal court process ensued, despite attempts to rely on the previous agreement, and disclosure based on current assets, income and needs was exchanged. This would have been avoided had the terms of the original settlement been formalised and sealed by the Court.
Unless there are compelling reasons, such as mistake, non-disclosure or a major supervening event, such orders cannot be revisited or changed. Therefore certainty and protection is provided for by entering into such an order, at very little cost, thus potentially saving vast costs in the future.