What is a "clean break" divorce settlement?

Legendary darts player Phil Taylor has recently been in the press due to his divorce which has been referred to in the press as a clean break divorce. What does this mean, and is it an unusual type of settlement? Amy Langlois in our Family Team offers some advice on the subject.

Phil and Yvonne Taylor were married for 23 years and have four children together. They separated in 2011 and divorced earlier this year. The couple have amassed an estate worth £10 million, predominantly from Phil Taylor’s darts winnings. It is reported that the basis of their financial order from the court was that Mrs Taylor received some money to rehouse herself and to provide a fund which she could invest and create an income for the rest of her life. This formed a cash settlement and part of Mr Taylor’s pension. It was intended that this would permanently bring to an end all financial ties to one another, hence the term “clean break”.

Amy explains “A clean break settlement means that the divorcing couple will have no financial ties once the order is agreed or ruled upon by a court and implemented. This could mean that a family property is sold, pensions are shared and liabilities settled so that both parties receive a suitable division of the assets and liabilities are dealt with. Both parties simply go their own way financially from that point.”

The Taylors’ children are all adults and the question of spousal maintenance payments does not appear to have been raised, but in a scenario where the children are younger, maintenance may be included within a financial order which will mean the parties cannot obtain a clean break settlement straight away but usually payments will be structured in a way so that eventually, maintenance will come to an end, thereby achieving a clean break.

There were purported negotiations on the settlement where Mrs Taylor’s solicitors suggested that Mr Taylor could have done more to help financially during their separation leading up to their divorce. When a Judge looks at the finances in a divorcing/divorced couple, they look at a number of factors which includes the conduct of both parties. However, either parties’ behaviour during the course of the marriage very rarely affects a Judge’s decision unless it is so bad that it should not be ignored.

A Court’s starting point in a long marriage for the division of a matrimonial pot (assets and liabilities) is why should there not be a 50:50 split. Different factors will slide the 50:50 scale, for example, a young couple where the wife doesn’t work and looks after the children, 50% of the available capital may not be enough to enable her to rehouse herself and the children, so she may be awarded more. Another example is a marriage where one party has made a stellar contribution to the finances of the marriage, an equal division may not be deemed to be the appropriate answer.

It is important to note that family proceedings are private and therefore, proceedings are not made available to the public.

Our Family Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Amy, or her team, will be happy to chat about your situation.