Q&A - Clean break or maintenance – which is the best option if I divorce?

Q:    My husband has been having an affair with his secretary for years, but I have just put up with it as I believed he would never leave me because of the children. However, the secretary’s husband has now filed for divorce, and I am worried my husband might go after all. If that happens, I will divorce him. If I do divorce him, should I go for a clean break financial settlement or maintenance?

A:    Without knowing yours and your husband’s full financial circumstances it is difficult to give an opinion, but there is a third option to consider – nominal spousal maintenance. This is where there is effectively a clean break settlement whilst keeping the door open to apply for maintenance payments in the future.

The nominal amount could be as little as £1 per annum and this would be in addition to an agreed lump sum ‘clean break’ payment which, on its own, would cancel all future financial ties between you and your husband.

Opting for a clean break would include all finances such as pensions, property and future income. The court has an obligation in every case to consider achieving a clean break now or in the future. Obtained via a financial order, a clean break takes immediate effect, and no spousal maintenance will subsequently be paid.

However, seeking a ‘nominal’ spousal maintenance order would prevent a full income clean break and keep the door open for you to apply to the court to increase the level of maintenance in the future if your circumstances changed. With this written into the financial order, you would have the security of knowing that increased financial support was available to you if it became necessary.

Article 13/09/2021

This question has been answered by Sean Rolinson, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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Alison Peters

Alison Peters


A Partner in our Family and Matrimonial department in Oswestry