What is a Financial Consent Order?

A financial consent order is a legal document that confirms your financial agreement to the divorce court. Legally dealing with your finances as part of a divorce or ending a civil partnership is an important step.

But it’s a step that many divorcing couples overlook unfortunately.

We sympathise if you and your spouse agree about your finances and don’t believe it’s worth the extra cost of a consent order. However you do need to be aware of the potential consequences of not formalising your financial agreement through the family court.

The only way to prevent either party from making future claims against assets or wealth is to obtain a financial consent order following the divorce proceedings.

Continue reading to learn all you need to know about financial orders as we will address all of those questions for you.

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    Why Should I Get a Clean-break Consent Order?

    The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for civil cases. It upholds the legal principal that marriage holds a life-long obligation between a married couple, which does not simply end on divorce.

    A clean-break consent order is the only way to completely sever your financial obligations after divorce. This will provide certainty regarding your financial future by ensuring any future claims are dismissed. If you have agreed to a financial agreement then you need to get a consent order and make it legally binding.

    If the financial settlement you’ve reached is only verbally agreed upon it will not be legally binding. Consequently a family court cannot enforce any part of it should there be any issues or future claims.

    A consent order therefore, is the legal document that confirms your financial agreement to the family court. It sets-out how you are going to divide up your assets and liabilities such as:

    • Savings
    • Property
    • Pensions
    • Mortgage & other debts
    • Investments

    Can Child Maintenance be Included in a Consent Order?

    The court order can include child maintenance arrangements, but the order can only make child maintenance legally binding for 12 months. Thereafter, the CMS (Child Maintenance Service) has the mandate for calculating and enforcing child maintenance payments.

    Child maintenance is treated differently under family law than spousal maintenance, though they can be combined into a global maintenance payment.

    Some people choose to include these payments in a consent order to demonstrate proof of income if they are planning to apply for a mortgage or rental agreement.

    Can Child Maintenance be Included in a Consent Order?

    How long does a financial consent order take?

    Once approved by a judge, the court order dismisses the possibility of any future financial claims from either party. In normal circumstances, a standard financial consent order takes approximately 6 to 10 weeks to be approved by the court. However, timescales for financial applications can depend on the court you file with.

    It typically costs from £1,500 to £2,000 for a financial consent order when instructing a high street law firm. This depends on the complexity of your agreement and where you live, but expect to pay more in London!

    The Divorce-Online Managed Consent Order Service for £399 handled by our in-house solicitors covers all aspects for a fixed-fee if you prefer a more affordable option.

    You can apply to the court to approve your consent order once the judge has granted your Decree Nisi during the divorce proceedings. The agreement becomes legally binding once the judge grants the Decree Absolute.

    Whilst it’s possible to obtain a consent order after the Decree Absolute has been granted, it may affect your entitlement to certain assets. What’s more, you may also be liable for tax on any assets you receive.

    Professionally Drafted Consent Order Service – £399

    This service provides you with a solicitor-drafted financial agreement that Divorce-Online will manage through court. This will ensure that your order is granted by the family courts and therefore become legally binding – without costing you thousands of pounds!

    Key Facts About Financial Consent Orders

    • Dealing with financial arrangements as well as a divorce or civil partnership dissolution can be complex
    • The type of court order required depends entirely on your situation, a consent order isn’t suitable for all couples
    • The alternative to a consent order is a clean break order suitable for couples that don’t have joint assets, such as pensions, property or savings
    • If your marriage was relatively short with no joint assets a clean break order allows you both to go separate ways after divorce
    • Consent orders are necessary when you have on-going commitments and financial ties like property, pensions, child maintenance payments, or even debts & liabilities
    • If you fail to obtain a financial order when you divorce your ex-partner can claim against you in the future – even several years after divorce should your financial situation change
    • A divorce will end your marriage and enable you to re-marry, however, it does not end your financial commitments as husband and wife
    • The term Financial disclosure is used to describe being open and honest about your financial situation including; income, savings, investments and pensions
    • It’s hard to reach a fair financial agreement if someone isn’t honest about their assets, that’s why it’s a requirements that must be met for a judge to approve a consent order
    • The divorce process and obtaining a consent order are two separate legal processes

    Difference Between Consent Order & Clean Break Order

    Is a Consent Order the Same as a Clean Break Order? In Family Law so many different terms are used to describe similar things. This article will help explain exactly what each of them is, and which one you need.

    Statement of Information – Form D81

    Many people naturally want to know what information a Judge takes into consideration before granting a court order. We can confirm that the statement of information (D81 Form) is one of the main documents required by the court, along with making a Financial Disclosure.

    The statement of information form D81 will initially ask how long you were married. Other questions include the value of assets and income for each party, details of property ownership, plus matters relating to children. Confirmation of whether either party has remarried or entered a long-term relationship is also asked.

    Generally, the court will encourage couples to agree details themselves. Ultimately though the court must consider whether any consent order is a fair and proper financial arrangement for both parties.

    The purpose of the statement of information is therefore to provide the Court with context when deciding if the proposed consent order is indeed fair and proper. If the Court judges that the proposed consent order is fair, then it will usually approve it without the need for either party to attend Court.

    What is Financial Disclosure when getting a Consent Order?

    Making a financial disclosure is mandatory when applying for a consent order through the family court. The purpose of a financial disclosure is to provide details of your income, pensions, assets & liabilities.

    You will be required to fill out a Financial Statement Form E, which will be supported by other documents confirming details disclosed in the form. Once financial disclosure has been provided, the court judge is able to consider the value of the matrimonial pot, and distribute assets fairly.

    It’s possible that either partner may be entitled to a share of the other’s pension, in which case a Pension Sharing Order will outline how the pension pot should be split.

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

    A consent order is indefinitely legally binding. However some parts may expire as events take place, such as a family home being sold or a pension maturing.

    What are the requirements for a financial consent order?

    A financial consent order is a legal document. A draft consent order is prepared by a qualified solicitor with the consensus of both divorce parties. This draft sets out what each party have agreed in relation to their matrimonial assets and finances.

    Many people ask, Can You File Your Own Consent Order in a Divorce? Our advice is that a template downloaded from the internet stands little chance of satisfying a court. It would likely result in a refusal and a subsequent loss of court fees.

    The court order should always be drafted by a qualified solicitor, and we’ll show you how to keep the legal costs down.

    Can I change a financial consent order?

    Once your financial consent order has been granted it can only be overturned or changed if there has been suspected fraud, like hiding 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 conditions are satisfied.

    Please Note: COVID-19 has changed the financial situation for millions of people. What happens if either party has lost their job, the house sale falls through or joint savings have been used to pay bills? We will try to answer some of your questions on our Consent Orders During COVID-19 Q&A page.

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

    Once the consent order is sealed by a Judge in the divorce court it will be sent by post to each party.

    Each party, or their family lawyer, is then responsible for carrying out the terms of the order.

    This could involve selling the family home (you may need a Property Adjustment Order) and paying a lump sum of money. Or it could involve more complex divisions, such as splitting money from pensions.

    Failure to Comply with A Consent Order

    The court will not be directly involved in carrying out the order unless there is a failure to comply. At this point, an application to enforce the order would have to be made to the court.

    What happens if one party doesn’t comply with the agreement that has been approved by the Judge?

    In this instance, there are various legal options that can play out and this article addresses what can happen if a spouse doesn’t comply with the consent order.

    How To Get a Consent Order Online

    If you and your ex-partner have agreed on how your financial assets and liabilities are to be separated you can get a consent order. Furthermore, if you DON’T want to spend £1,500 or more on a high street solicitor, then our online consent order service is the ideal solution.

    Here’s what you receive when you get our Consent Order Online Service:

    • A family law solicitor drafted financial order for just £399 (fixed-fee & covers both parties)
    • Divorce-Online will manage the application process through the courts for you
    • Divorce-Online deal with any queries from the Court Judge or opposing solicitors on your behalf
    • You provide all the information we need online – No need to visit our offices for legal advice or form filling
    • Track your case online from start-to-finish

    We appreciate there’s a lot to figure out when considering a consent order, and it can be difficult knowing where to start. Therefore to make the process easier we’ve written about the common mistakes people make and how to avoid them.

    Read about the 7 most important things to consider before making a financial application to sever your financial commitments following a divorce.

    Solicitor Drafted Financial Consent Order – £399

    This fixed fee service provides you with a solicitor drafted financial agreement that we manage through court for you. This ensures that your consent order is granted by the courts and therefore becomes legally binding without costing you thousands of pounds.

    This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of Divorce-Online and Managing Director of Online Legal Services Ltd (Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority). Mark has been writing about divorce and family law related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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