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A Financial Order is a term the court uses to describe financial proceedings within a divorce.

Separately, a consent order is a legal document that explains to the court how you are going to divide money and assets such as property, pensions and savings following a divorce.

Once the judge approves the agreement it becomes legally binding and prevents both parties from making future claims against the other.

It can also include details on spousal and/or child maintenance arrangements. This enables the family court to enforce these if the maintenance is not paid.

If you and your partner have reached a financial agreement then you will need to draft a consent order and ask the court to approve it to make it legally binding.

We have arranged our finances ourselves, do we still need a financial order?

If you do not apply to the courts for a financial order following a divorce then you leave your finances up in the air for many years after.

The decree absolute does not end your financial commitments as husband and wife. It simply ends your marriage.

Many couples are happy to reach a divorce settlement but forego making it official by having a financial order drafted and submitted to the court.

‘We have been able to sort out financial matters between ourselves so we don’t need to involve the court’ is something we hear every day from our clients.

Bypassing the courts gives you no legal protection should one party not keep to the agreement.

Depending on your individual financial agreement this could mean one of several things;

  • Not receiving any agreed child and/or spousal maintenance payments.
  • Not receiving any agreed money towards the mortgage or your rent.
  • Not receiving the correct lump-sum payment from any house sale or division of pensions.
  • Not receiving the correct amount of money to pay off any joint debts.

As you can see without obtaining a consent order, the court has no powers to enforce your agreement.

Scenario 1 – We have money, assets and/or children

Long marriages typically come with a range of valuable assets to divide, such as pensions and property. There are also usually savings and/or debts to resolve.

As you have money, assets and possibly maintenance to agree on and split evenly you should consider obtaining a financial order alongside your divorce.

A divorce financial order will document how you intend to split any money or assets as well as any arrangements for child/spousal maintenance.

Without such an order that is reviewed and sealed by a judge, you have no legal protection should either party not carry out their part of the agreement.

Scenario 2 – We have no joint money, assets and/or children

This type of scenario is usually for couples that have a short marriage; usually between 1-3 years.

In this situation, you could be forgiven for thinking that you can just get a quick divorce and move on with your life. At the end of the day, you have no money to split, no property to sell and no maintenance to agree for children.

However, this is why getting expert advice is essential as just getting a divorce and not applying to the court to order a clean break can cost you dearly in the future.

You must apply to the court for a clean break order if you wish to legally sever all financial ties and ensure neither party can make a claim against the other, even years after the divorce.

What exactly can the Courts deal with in relation to finances?

The courts have powers to action anything in relation to your financial situation. A typical financial order may include the following;

  • Child and/or Spousal Maintenance
  • The sale or transfer of properties
  • The payment of lump-sums of money
  • The division or split of pensions
  • The division or split of savings
  • The division or split of personal belongings
  • Provisions for debts

This list is not exhaustive to what you can put in your financial consent order, it’s a typical example of what many couples will include.

For example, any property portfolios or businesses can also go into the matrimonial pot.

Key Facts About Financial Orders

  • Can maintenance be included? Yes, the details of any spousal or child maintenance can be detailed within your financial agreement. Including maintenance as part of a financial order can give you further protection should either party not hold up their end of the agreement.
  • How long does it take? A standard consent order takes 6-10 weeks to be approved by the court. Timescales are dependent on which court you use to file the order with. Courts in large areas such as London are likely to have a longer timescale.
  • When can you file a consent order? You can apply for a consent order at the decree nisi stage of divorce proceedings. Or, anytime after the decree absolute, providing neither party has remarried. Once the decree absolute is granted the financial agreement becomes legally binding.

How much does a consent order cost?

You can obtain a consent order for £299 with our online service that is handled by family law solicitors. The typical cost when instructing local law firms is between £1,000 – £2,000 depending on the complexity of your agreement.

We encourage you to get 2-3 separate quotes from law firms as you’ll then see how much money you can save when using our service for just £299.

Professionally Drafted Financial Consent Order – £299

This service provides you with a solicitor-drafted financial agreement that we manage through court for you, to ensure that your order is granted by the courts and therefore becomes legally binding without costing you thousands.

Should I apply for a consent order before or after the decree absolute?

Putting a line in the sand with regards to your finances is vitally important when going through a divorce. The question of when you should do this is an important one.

If you are able to arrange your finances and agree to a financial settlement then it’s always recommended to file an application for a financial order once a judge has granted the decree nisi in divorce proceedings.

If you wait until the decree absolute is granted to apply then there can be certain implications.

For example, your entitlement to certain marriage assets such as pension funds or trust funds may be affected as they can only be transferred to a spouse (which you will no longer be).

Can you draft and file your own consent order?

Technically speaking, you can draft and file your own consent order, however, as your agreement requires specific legal clauses to be drafted it may hinder your rights if you do it yourself.

If the reason you wish to do it yourself is because of money, our services have been designed to be the most affordable to ensure everyone can receive a professional service without needing to spend thousands on solicitors.

If you are in agreement as to how your money and assets are to be split then our family law solicitors will draft the financial order for you for just £299.

How long is a consent order valid for after it’s granted?

A consent order is binding on both parties forever. Parts of the order may expire as events take place, such as a house being sold or a pension coming into payment.

Once your financial agreement has been granted by a judge it can only be overturned if there has been suspected fraud, hiding of assets or what is known as a “Barder” event.

The Barder principle comes from the 1987 case of Barder v Barder and allows a court to exercise its discretion to grant leave to appeal out of time if certain unusual conditions are satisfied.

What happens after the consent order is sealed by a judge?

Once the order is sealed by the court, it will be sent by post to each of the parties.

They ( or their lawyers) are then responsible for carrying out the terms of the order. This could involve selling property and paying a lump-sum of money. Or it could involve more complex divisions, such as splitting money from pensions.

The court will not be involved in carrying out the order unless there is a breach.

At that point, an application to enforce the order would have to be made to the court.

What happens if the Judge rejects our agreement?

If a judge rejects your consent order, it’s likely because they aren’t convinced the agreement is fair and reasonable in your circumstances.

It would then be useful to provide the judge with a clear picture as to why the agreement may appear unfair on the face of it and why you have reached that conclusion.

Here’s an example of when this may be the case

One party may have been useless with money and run up huge debts, so is happy for the remaining spouse to keep the equity in the home or any assets to pay off the debt and for them to walk away debt-free from the marriage.

You can respond to the judge via letter detailing the rationale behind the agreement and the judge may in light of the information you have provided, agree to the order.

If not, the judge may request that both parties attend a hearing, again, don’t panic. It is a court hearing but neither party is in any trouble.

It’s actually more of a fact-finding mission for the Judge to see you both face to face to ensure that one of you has not been coerced into signing the order.

It could also be to run through the order with you both to make sure you both understand what you are signing up to.

In the hearing, the Judge will either approve the order or not.

If they don’t approve the order then you may need to revisit the agreement with your spouse to see if the agreement can be changed to satisfy the Judges concerns.

What do we need to send to the court to get a financial order?

The main document in financial proceedings is known as Form E. Both parties must complete the form in order to apply for a financial order and it must be truthful and accurate.

Completion and swearing of Statement of Property and Income (Form E) containing:

  • Particulars of the parties/children
  • Means (including pension)
  • Capital and Income needs
  • Standard of living, Contribution, Conduct
  • Other relevant circumstances

We have written in-depth about what information you need to gather to complete Form E, which is an essential document in financial proceedings.

Both parties have an obligation to make full and frank disclosure of all material facts, documents and other information relevant to the issue (known as financial disclosure). 

Making an application for a financial order to the court should not be regarded as a hostile step or a last resort, rather as a way of starting the court timetable, controlling disclosure and endeavouring to avoid the costly final hearing.

Here’s an example of the information you need to gather

Form E Financial Statement

Example of a Form-E Statement

View Our Free Form E Fact Finder Online

View our Free PDF to find out exactly what information you need to gather for Form E before getting started and how the information we need from you will be obtained.

View our Form E Fact Finder

Selling, Transferring or Splitting Assets Before a Financial Order

There are tax implications for selling, transferring or splitting assets in a divorce and this will guide you as to the best time to do it.

Capital Gains tax can be a real headache with the tax become due on the sale of assets that have gained in value over time.

Without going into detailed tax advice, you need to be aware that From 6 April 2020, the spouse who moves out of the family home will only have a nine-month window in which to sell their interest before Capital Gains TaX applies to the proceeds of the sale, instead of the 18 months that currently applies.

Capital Gains Tax will be charged at 28% on the departing party’s share in the matrimonial home, assuming the departing party is a higher rate taxpayer. So the choice is stay in the home until you have a court order or hope the property sells within 9 months of leaving.

How to apply for a financial order online

If you have agreed between how any money and assets are to divided following the divorce, then applying online is the most straightforward and affordable way to go.

You can find a local family law firm near to where you live if you would to keep it traditional, however, you will be charged over £1,000 more and likely receive a less efficient service.

To apply for a consent order online, it’s very simple.

  1. View our Consent Order Services
  2. Complete our simple online checkout (or call us on 01793 384 029 and ask us any questions before getting started)
  3. Complete an online questionnaire (so we can gather the details we need for drafting)
  4. Your solicitor will draft your financial order (from the details you provide us with online)
  5. Both parties agree and sign the paperwork
  6. We submit your application to the courts on your behalf

Everything is done online at your convenience and it covers both parties, which saves you having to get separate representation. Whether you have started divorce proceedings already or not, we are on-hand to help you.

Professionally Drafted Financial Consent Order – £299

This service provides you with a solicitor-drafted financial agreement that we manage through court for you, to ensure that your order is granted by the courts and therefore becomes legally binding without costing you thousands.

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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