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The court has approved our consent order – but everything has changed due to COVID-19, what can I do?

Try negotiation

Try and agree on an unofficial change to the order with your partner if the financial order has already been approved by the court.

If your requests are reasonable based on your new financial circumstances and your ex-partner agrees, then you can decide not to follow the order, even if only temporarily It is wise to get any agreement you reach put into writing.

In these circumstances, the paying person, strictly speaking, will be in breach of the original order, and the recipient could seek to enforce the original order at a later date, so having a written agreement varying the terms of the order will help if things later go sour.

Ask the court to vary the order

This means you filing a new draft order with the court and asking the court to change the original order because of a change in your circumstances.

The court’s primary concern will be the welfare of any children.

The court will also consider current changes in circumstance but also any future changes too – so a temporary devaluing of assets due to the current pandemic may not be sufficient to warrant a modification of an order if the court thinks your finances may return to normal. The court only has the power to change certain parts of your order.

The court can vary: –

  • An order for sale where the property is yet to be sold.
  • Maintenance orders (spousal or child)
  • Lump-sum orders by instalments
  • Pension Sharing Orders if there has been no decree absolute made.

The court cannot vary

  • Property adjustment orders (where you have agreed to or transferred, a property), or where you have a Mesher style order (although it can vary the trigger events of a Mesher order)
  • Lump-sum orders (unless they are by instalments)
  • Pension Sharing Orders if your decree absolute has been granted, even if it has not yet been implemented by the pension company.

Need advice on dealing with your financial settlement?

During the uncertain times that Coronavirus has created, you likely have many questions about your divorce or financial settlement.

If you would like free advice or information at this difficult time, you can speak to us on live chat, where we have advisors ready to help you.

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This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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