When couples divorce, for whatever reason, many don’t even think about having a Clean Break Order but this is a really important safeguard for the future.
Few readers are probably aware that, without a Clean Break Order, if you are lucky enough to have your numbers come up on the National Lottery your ex-partner could be entitled to half of your winnings. Not a big deal if you have won £10, but what if you win the jackpot?
A Clean Break Order will ensure that, following divorce, your ex-partner will not be able to submit a request through the Court for more money or assets. Once your Decree Nisi has been pronounced the Clean Break Order is filed and becomes a final binding Order on both you and your ex-partner. It is therefore preferable to obtain the Clean Break Order at either the same time, or as soon possible after commencing divorce proceedings.
The Clean Break Order is legally enforceable, unlike an amicable verbal agreement. The fact that you and your ex-partner may have reached an informal agreement will not guarantee that, should you come into money at a later date, your ex-partner wouldn’t try to get a little extra.
Lottery winner, Nigel Page, learnt his lesson the hard way when he had to pay out £2 million of his winnings to ex-wife, Wendy… despite the fact that she left him for another man. The couple separated in 2000 but Wendy Page still wanted her “share” ten years later, with her legal team putting forward an offer of £8 million, having rejected Mr Page’s initial offer of £1 million. The lottery win has also meant that maintenance payments for the couple’s 13 year old daughter have considerably increased.
It would appear that there was no Clean Break Agreement made between the pair when they divorced, enabling Wendy Page to make a financial claim against her ex-husband. Claims can still be brought many years later and the passing of time and changing of circumstances does not bar future claims.
The Californian case of Denise Rossi sets out why you should be honest about your financial assets when dealing with divorce settlements. Denise won $1.3 million in the Californian lottery, but kept the win a secret from her husband and commenced divorce proceedings days later.
Two years after the divorce a letter addressed to Denise was inadvertently sent to her ex-husband’s address, alerting him to the lottery win. He subsequently took Denise back to Court where the Judge penalised Denise for concealing the money and awarded the whole amount to Mr Rossi.
It is likely that if she had disclosed the money at the time of the divorce proceedings she would have been entitled to at least half of the money, if not all of it.