Family Law Specialist

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Cheadle, Stockport,
Greater Manchester

Family Law & Finances

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

financial family law for individuals and families

What is a clean break?

We say it a lot during divorce or dissolution proceedings. But what exactly is a clean break?

In fact, there are different types:

capital and income;

capital only;

deferred; and

‘on death’

They are all clauses found in a consent order, that bring certain types of claim to an end.

Let’s take a closer look.

Capital and income

This is typically what people think about when they say they want a clean break. It means no future claims can be made for either:

a share of your spouse/civil partners income in the form of maintenance; or

re-distribution of capital or pension entitlement by way of a lump sum payment, a property adjustment order or a pension sharing order.

Capital only

If spousal maintenance is part of your agreement (or the court orders it), there is an ongoing financial relationship between you.

Therefore, the court cannot remove your right to make another application. (You might need to alter the amount of maintenance, for example).

The court can however, still order that neither spouse/partner may make further claims for lump sum, property adjustment, pension sharing or pension attachment.

This type of order is called a capital only clean break.


Often, spousal maintenance comes to an end after a fixed period of time.

With this in mind, court orders usually contain a deferred, income clean break clause, that will kick in as soon as the maintenance ends.

‘On death’

If you are married, you have the right to make an application for reasonable financial provision out of your spouse’s estate when they die.

Although many people expect divorce to terminate those rights, in fact you don’t lose them until you remarry.

Therefore, it is usual to see a clause in a financial order removing any rights to bring a claim against a former spouse’s estate.

This type of clause is known as a clean break ‘on death’. It cannot be used if there is ongoing maintenance, but can be deferred like the income clean break.


There you have it; a clean break can be immediate or deferred. It can be for capital, income or inheritance.

It is a clause in a court order that prevents future claims of a particular type.

If you would like help with a financial agreement or court order on divorce, use the form below to get in touch.

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How to have a complete clean break on divorce

Nicola Williams is a Family Law Solicitor in the AFG Law Family Team at Cheadle Royal Business Park, Brooks Drive, Manchester, Cheadle SK8 3TD