Brenda Spain

Will a Divorce give me a Clean Break?

Will a Divorce give me a Clean Break?

A divorce can provide a legal end to your marriage but the divorce itself does not provide an automatic ‘clean break’ insofar as financial arrangements are concerned.

Will a Divorce give me a Clean Break? Here are some points to consider:

  • During the divorce, the scope of the family assets will need to be determined. This can be done in various ways: negotiations through solicitors, the mediation process or in some circumstances, the Courts. Those assets include property, investments, savings, pensions, and your respective income positions. Parties are encouraged to reach a fair division of the assets that have been accumulated during the relationship.
  • How these will be dealt with will be very specific to your case, depending on how long you have been married, your ages, any dependent children etc.
  • Specific consideration is given to business assets, pensions, inheritance, trusts and assets accumulated post-separation etc.
  • In reaching an agreement, it is important to bear in mind the requirement of openness and transparency and sharing of information.

When the matter is concluded, it is equally important to ensure you have a Court-approved Order that is final and binding to prevent any ‘come back’ in the future.

While clean breaks are encouraged (i.e. all financial ties are severed, save for children), this is not always possible and again, will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Financial obligations may continue beyond the divorce and can be affected by future changes in circumstances such as income fluctuations.

“When the matter is concluded, it is equally important to ensure you have a Court-approved Order that is final and binding to prevent any ‘come back’ in the future.”

It is important that you and your assets are protected and you should always seek advice from a Family solicitor, particularly in cases of complexity including businesses, pensions etc. The advice will be unique to you and based on your specific circumstances not only now but in years to come to protect you, your children and to protect you in your retirement years.

Here at Cullimore Dutton, we have solicitors with many years of experience who have dealt with all aspects of Financial proceedings with a range of issues and complexities. This experience is invaluable to you.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our Family Law team to discuss the making of a divorce application, or the financial consequences of doing so, simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

How volunteering at a law centre inspired Brenda’s legal career

Cullimore Dutton’s Head of Family Brenda Spain is a highly experienced family lawyer who specialises in the financial aspects of divorce and separation, private children matters and co-habitation disputes. Here she talks about what inspired her choice of profession, what she loves about her work and how she is working with the next generation of solicitors.


What inspired your career in the law?

Growing up in Liverpool, I volunteered at a law centre while I was doing my A-levels. The centre helped people with family, housing and welfare issues and I was impressed with how well everyone worked as a team and their passion to make a difference to those people’s lives. I saw the human face of the law and I liked it. I wanted to help people too.


How did you get started?

I studied law at Liverpool University and then started working for a Liverpool law firm in their family department, receiving fantastic support from my then Principal. Thereafter, I spent 25 years as a partner at a legal firm in Worcestershire before heading back north and joining Cullimore Dutton in 2019. I’m a member of the Law Society family law panel and I’m also a mediator, which means I’m trained to work with people whose relationships have broken down and to find solutions that both sides can agree on.


What do you love about your work?

Chester is a wonderful city to practice in and I love the collaborative approach we foster as a business here at Cullimore Dutton. We do not cover every aspect of law but what we do, we do to an excellent standard. Everyone is very positive with a can-do attitude and I’m proud that we have built such a dynamic team. Whether you are a legal assistant, a secretary or a partner, client care runs through the heart of the practice. Changing lives is in our DNA for our clients and our colleagues alike.

As my team understand, we are keen to help people through one of the most difficult times in their lives and I believe our client care and level of support singles us out. It’s not a 9-5 job. We are all very accessible and support our clients from start to finish, wading through what can be the fog of divorce into what we hope to be a better new chapter in their lives. We are more than solicitors.


What does your mentor work involve?

I’m Cullimore Dutton’s Training Principal which means I mentor and support colleagues who are coming into the legal profession.

It’s an exciting role and I care passionately about people joining our team. I want them to be the best they can be because they are the next generation.

We have taken on four legal assistants recently and it’s great seeing them progress. One is about to qualify and another is half way through their training.


Tell us about life outside work

At the weekends, I love getting out and about into the countryside with my Labrador Barney, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.

I enjoy getting involved in charity work because meeting and helping people and giving back to communities is important to me. I am proud to have helped a number of charities over the years and continue to do so.

Brenda Spain

Divorcing your Business Partner

Divorcing your business partner

Getting divorced is never easy in any circumstances. This can be even more complicated when spouses are in business together as they rarely consider coming to a commercial arrangement beforehand.

In limited companies, the parties may be co-Directors and equal shareholders, one party may have been added to the business for tax reasons who is not the key person. Partnership Agreements are not always clear.

During the divorce process, emotions can be raw and that can often make decisions more difficult.

Divorcing your business partner, what Usually Happens
It is uncommon and unlikely that you will lose your business or have to sell it if you do not wish to. While the Courts do have the power to order the sale of a business, they are both careful and reluctant to use this power, after all, a successful business is likely to provide for you and your family for years to come.

Coming to an agreement about the future of the business
The most obviously and straightforward way to determine what will happen to your business is to come to an agreement with your spouse. This will often mean a valuation of the business, its assets, shareholdings etc. A Solicitor will guide you through this and facilitate discussions between the parties with a view to reaching an amicable agreement. In some cases, although not common, some couples may continue to run the business and have a good working relationship.

More commonly however, one party usually buys out the other party’s interest in the business.

Splitting the assets of a business
Dividing business assets can be complicated so we would always advise seeking specialist legal advice on your position and your own particular circumstances.

If you would like a free initial consultation with one of our team contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

Are you considering ending or exiting a relationship

If you are considering ending or exiting a relationship, whether that be a marriage or cohabitation, you would be advised to consult a solicitor to discuss the steps you need to take to ensure that your interests are well protected.

Things you should consider include:

1. Joint accounts – are you protected?
2. Your pension – have you protected your death in service benefits?

3. Your capital assets i.e., investments/pensions/contributions/businesses – how will these be treated in the event of divorce or separation?

4. Jointly owned property – are you aware of the rule of survivorship? If anything should happen to you what would happen to your interest in that property? If you live together are you aware that there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife? How property is owned will affect any contributions you may have made?

5. Your will (even if this is a holding will). This is crucial as your ex-partner could still benefit under your current will, or,
if you have not made a will, they could still benefit from, or be appointed to administer your estate under the rules of intestacy.

These issues are hugely important, and you should take professional advice at an early stage to ensure that you are well protected.

We have expert teams specialising in Family Law, Wills & Probate, Residential Conveyancing and Financial Services who will be able to help, support
and guide you through the steps needed to ensure the protection of your interests.

We would be delighted to arrange a free initial consultation to discuss these issues with you and to make sure that you are on the right track, if indeed
this is the path you decide to follow.

If you would like a free initial consultation to discuss your will with one of our team contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

Cohabitation Agreements

The property market has boomed over the last year with many unmarried couples purchasing their first homes together. This is an exciting time for these couples, but what plans are in place should the relationship come to an end?

In this article Head of Family Law Brenda Spain looks at why unmarried couples should consider a Cohabitation Agreement.

Why you need a Cohabitation Agreement.
If you live with your partner or are considering moving in together you may have thought about a Cohabitation Agreement. There is, of course, no legal requirement to have a Cohabitation Agreement to live with a partner but it can be useful to protect your finances and establish practical arrangements both during the relationship and unfortunately if that relationship comes to an end.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?
A Cohabitation Agreement basically sets out what you and your partner would like to happen in terms of your financial arrangements both during the relationship and most importantly if it comes to an end. You should discuss the financial aspects of the relationship and set them out clearly in the agreement. It can be as detailed as you both wish.

Do cohabitants have the same rights as married couples?
The answer is no. Nor is there any such thing as a common law husband and wife, despite the length of the relationship.

One of the key incentives to enter into Cohabitation Agreements is to ensure that your arrangements and intentions are clearly set out.

Many couples who have lived together and separate end up in bitter disputes because there was no agreement about what should happen to the house, money, businesses or even what the children arrangements are likely to be.

Cohabitation disputes before the Courts can be very expensive and a Cohabitation Agreement can be evidentially helpful in those circumstances otherwise you are left to organise the division of assets informally at a time that may already be challenging and sensitive so it can be a helpful insurance policy against future difficulties.

Obtaining advise at this stage of your relationship can be crucial as it can affect many aspects of your financial arrangements for example:

How the ownership of the property should be set out. What if somebody is making a larger contribution that the other through savings, inheritance, or previous divorce settlement?

There are no maintenance right between parties should the relationship end.

There is no automatic entitlement to your partner’s pension. What can you do, including death in service benefits, Will and Estate Planning?

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team to discuss a cohabitation agreement, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Brenda Spain

The Perils of No Financial Agreement – Getting it right first time

Many separated or even divorced people do not realise they may be at risk of financial claims being made against them by their ex, even years after separation

When separating or divorcing it is crucial that your financial affairs are resolved properly at the time of the separation. Not to do so can leave you vulnerable to future financial claims.

As Family Lawyers we often hear:
We dealt with it ourselves
If so, how? Is it legally binding?

We didn’t have anything to protect
Is that still the case?

We have got a Decree Absolute, we are divorced
The Decree Absolute ends your marriage but not the financial links between you both. 

There have been many cases where the Courts have made financial awards long after parties have separated because no final and binding agreement was put in place. While the Courts have regard to post separation wealth, income etc, if the needs of your former partner have changed through loss of employment or ill health, those needs may have to be taken into account. The Courts will look at the assets as they are at the current time, so as an example, if you have grown a successful business since your separation or divorce, your ex may be able to make financial claims against it, a claim which may even result in you needing to sell the business.

Due to the passage of time, these disputes can be more costly to resolve, and having your financial affairs open to examination can result in cases being very emotionally charged.

What is the solution? 
The solution is to have a Court approved, final and binding, financial settlement agreement between you both.

What is the solution? 
We recently represented a client who at the time of his separation had transferred the house to his ex-wife along with their joint savings and provided ongoing financial support for their children.

A number of years later he decided to start a new life abroad. At this point he found his assets had been frozen, his ex-wife had fallen into ill health and had lodged a series of financial applications with the Court.

Had he ensured there was a legally binding finance agreement in place he would have avoided twelve months of litigation and the associated costs.

If you a facing divorce or separation and would like a free initial consultation with a member of our expert Family Law team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.