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What Is a Financial Consent Order & Why Should I Get One?

A consent order is a legal document that confirms your informal financial agreement. It explains how you are going to divide assets such as property, pensions and savings.

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.

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Consent Order Information

  • What is a consent order? 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. This contents of the order will be based on your formal financial agreement.
  • Is a consent order the same as a clean break? No, a consent order legally separates your money and assets within a marriage such as the family home, pensions, savings, debts and child and/or spousal maintenance. A clean break order legally sever all financial ties between a husband and wife when there are no on-going financial commitments, e.g. maintenance payments or the division of any property.
  • What can be included? The courts have powers to act on anything in relation to your finances. This may include property, savings, debts, pensions, maintenance and personal belongings. More in-depth information can be found below.
  • 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 gets granted the financial agreement becomes legally binding.

What Else Should I Know About Consent Orders?

If you do not apply to the courts for a financial order, then you leave your finances up in the air.

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.

You may be thinking… ‘We don’t have any joint money or assets to divide so we are fine’.

This is unfortunately not the case.
People with no money or assets are still bound by the same divorce law as those with money and assets to divide.

If you come into money or assets in the future, your ex-husband or wife may be able to claim against it.

Money or assets can include lottery wins, some inheritance, but mainly career progression. Starting a successful business can also lead to claims as Dale Vince found out.

If you have a childless marriage and don’t have assets or money to divide, you need a clean break order. It’s simple to do and can cost less than £200.

What Exactly Can The Court Deal With?

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.

How does a consent order application work?

The first thing you need to do when making a consent order application is to complete a Statement of Information (Form D81).

The Statement of Information is an overview of both parties financial position. This summary of your finances gives the Judge some context and includes information on:

  • The approx. value of any assets and income of both parties. (E.g. properties, cash in the bank, savings, vehicles, etc)
  • Any held debts such as loans or credit cards
  • The intended future living arrangements of both parties
  • Any property that is due to be transferred
    • For example, if the property transfer is mortgage debt, you should include that you have contacted the mortgage lender and that they have no objection.

Here is an example of the form you will need to complete…

statement of information example

An example of the statement of arrangements document (Form M D81)

The only other document you will need to complete before making a financial application is the consent order itself unless you are sharing pensions whereby you need to complete an extra form.

This document needs to be drafted by a qualified solicitor as it needs to include various legal clauses. Find out what you need to know about filing your own consent order.


Managed Consent Order

  • How Much? £299 Fixed-Fee
  • How Long? 28-31 Working Days
  • Online service? Yes, 100% Online
  • Drafted By? Qualified Solicitors

View Service


Detailed Consent Order

  • How Much? £399 Fixed-Fee
  • How Long? 28-31 Working Days
  • Online service? Yes, 100% Online
  • Drafted By? Qualified Solicitors

View Service


Co-op Equivalent Service

  • How Much? £960 – £1,200
  • How Long? 4 Weeks+
  • Online Service? Traditional Service
  • Drafted By? Qualified Solicitors

Find Out If You Need a Consent Order Or Clean Break…

Which Financial Order Tool (Luke)

How long is a consent order valid for and what can invalidate it?

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.

A consent order or parts of a consent order 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 gets 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 my consent order?

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.

Consent Order FAQ’s, Answered by Experts

What can happen if I don’t obtain a consent order?

Answer

Without a consent order, either party can apply to the court for a financial order at a later date. So, even if you have reached an agreement and divided your assets formally, your spouse can at any time apply to the court for more than you agreed.

Whether the court would give them any more money is another matter, but the fact they can apply would cause unnecessary stress and legal costs with having to defend your settlement.

Do I need to go to the court to file a consent order?

Answer

No, you don’t need to physically attend the court to file a consent order; it is all done by post.

As part of our Managed Consent Order Service, we’ll file the order for you and deal with any questions or queries that the court or judge have about your agreement.

Once the drafted paperwork and court fee have been registered at court, it will be sent to a judge to approve the order.

Are there court fees associated with filing a financial application?

Answer

The current court fee for filing a consent order is £50.00. This will need to be attached to your draft agreement when sent to the court.

This fee is set by the government and will need to be paid before the order can be processed through court.

When it comes to obtaining a consent order, you need to understand your options. It’s true that you can file the consent order with the courts yourself without the need of legal representation, however, you must have the court paperwork drafted by a legal expert in order for the judge to review and grant your order.

Here are the two options you have;

1) Local Solicitors – This is the most expensive and long-winded way to obtain a consent order. The law firm will require you to attend meetings to obtain the necessary information from you that they need in order to draft your financial application. The average fee charged by local solicitors for this type of work is £1000+VAT (£1200), which is excessive and unnecessary.

2) Divorce-Online – You can use our Consent Order Service for £299 fixed-fee and have everything handled for you from beginning-to-end without needing to visit our offices or the court. Everything can be completed online and you will be able to track each step via your online account form your phone or laptop.

consent order service

View Our Consent Order Service For £299

If you’re looking to save you time, stress and money with obtaining a financial consent order, then this service will be ideal for you. Drafted by qualified solicitors to your exact requirements. Save over £1000 compared to traditional solicitors.

Managed Consent Order – £299

This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce-Online and Managing Director of Online Legal Services 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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