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What Is a Consent Order? Here’s 7 Vital Things You Must Know

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a consent order to start the legal process of concluding your financial arrangements on divorce.

Many couples successfully negotiate the division of their finances during divorce, which is highly encouraged, however, they fail to seek court approval.

A consent order is a crucial legal document that finalises these financial arrangements, ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of assets and finances.

the signing of a consent order agreement uk

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    Author: Lara Jayne Davies

    This post was written by Lara Jayne Davies. Lara is a family law solicitor specialising in Matrimonial and Private Children matters. She thinks creatively and cost-effectively to assist clients in achieving the best possible outcome whilst always providing the highest levels of client care.

    As a family law solicitor, I have guided many clients through the process of securing a consent order, which is pivotal in ensuring a fair and legally binding resolution of financial matters.

    Whether you’re considering drafting a consent order yourself, seeking legal advice, or understanding the costs and requirements, this article covers all aspects to help you make informed decisions.

    Here are 7 important things you need to know about court consent orders when going through a divorce.

    1. What is a financial consent order?

    A financial consent order is a legally binding document that outlines your financial agreement to the court and records how you have agreed to divide the matrimonial assets, such as money, property, and savings.

    Divorcing alone does not end your financial ties. Settling your finances in a divorce can only be done by applying for a consent order and seeking court approval.

    Getting a consent order is essential to ensure both parties receive a fair split of matrimonial assets.

    2. Do I need a consent order if my spouse and I have already agreed on how to split everything?

    Yes, it’s highly advisable. Even if you’ve reached an amicable agreement, without a financial consent order, your agreement isn’t legally binding.

    This means either of you could potentially make financial claims against the other in the future.

    A consent order provides legal closure, preventing any future claims and giving you peace of mind.

    3. Can I not just write a consent order myself for £58?

    Yes, you can write your own consent order in divorce proceedings, often referred to as a DIY consent order.

    However, it’s important to ensure that the document accurately reflects the agreement between both parties and includes all necessary financial details. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t use a consent order template.

    A consent order solicitor can ensure details on the division of property, savings, pensions, and maintenance agreements are drafted correctly.

    Opting for a DIY consent order can save on legal fees initially, but the unintended consequences can cost you more in the future.

    4. What’s the difference between a clean break order and a consent order?

    A clean break order is a type of financial consent order that ensures no ongoing financial ties between the parties once the divorce is finalised.

    It means that neither party can make any further financial claims against the other in the future.

    For example, if Alex and Sam agree that Sam keeps the family home and Alex retains a larger portion of the pension, they might choose a clean break order to ensure there are no ongoing financial obligations like spousal maintenance.

    This provides both parties with a clear financial separation.

    5. How do you apply for a divorce consent order?

    The consent order process in divorce ensures financial arrangements are legally binding. Here is an outline of how to make an application through the court:

    1. Agreement: First, both parties need to reach an agreement on how to divide their assets. This can be done through direct negotiation, mediation, or with the help of solicitors.
    2. Draft Consent Order: Once an agreement is reached, your solicitor will draft the financial consent order. This document will detail how assets are to be divided, including property, savings, pensions, capital, income, and any ongoing financial support.
    3. Form A – Notice of [Intention to Proceed with] a Financial Application: To start the process of obtaining a consent order, you must file Form A. This form is essential in notifying the court that you are seeking a financial order. Filing Form A is the first step in severing financial ties and finalising your divorce settlement.
    4. Statement of Information: Alongside the consent order, a Statement of Information for a Consent Order (Form D81) needs to be completed. This form provides the court with an overview of both parties’ financial situations, ensuring the agreement is fair and reasonable. Full financial disclosure of all financial assets and liabilities is a mandatory part of the consent order process. This includes providing information on bank accounts, investments, properties, and any potential inheritance.
    5. Court Approval: The drafted consent order and the Statement of Information are then submitted to the court. It’s at this point you pay the £58 court fee. A judge will review the documents to ensure the agreement is fair and equitable. If the judge is satisfied, they will approve the order, making it legally binding.
    6. Implementation: Once the court approves the consent order, it becomes enforceable. This means both parties are legally obligated to adhere to the terms set out in the order. Failure to comply with the order can result in legal consequences.

    Courts can disagree with your application and reject a consent order. Courts may reject your order if they believe the terms are unfair.

    You may be asked to explain how you reached the agreement so the courts have more context and understanding of your situation.

    6. How much does a consent order typically cost?

    The cost of a consent order includes your solicitor’s fees and a court fee, which is currently £58.

    Solicitors’ fees can vary depending on the complexity of your case, but on average, you might expect to pay between £500 to £1,500 plus VAT.

    Discussing fees upfront with your solicitor is a good idea to get a clear understanding.

    7. How long does it take to get a consent order approved?

    Once you’ve reached an agreement and the consent order is drafted, the time frame can vary.

    It takes about four to six weeks for the court to review and approve the order after submission.

    However, this can be longer if there are complexities or if the court has a backlog of cases. It’s important to ensure all documents are correctly completed to avoid delays.

    Consent Order FAQs…

    What happens if my ex is refusing to sign?

    Should your former spouse resist signing any financial settlement, the option of seeking court intervention may arise.

    However, it’s crucial to view this as a last resort due to the additional expenses and the typically more time-consuming nature compared to alternative approaches.

    If your spouse remains steadfast in refusing to sign the consent order or an agreement on the financial settlement terms proves elusive, you can petition the court for approval of your clean break consent order. This route is known as an ancillary relief order.

    It is generally advisable to explore all available options, such as mediation, before resorting to court involvement.

    Can you get divorced without a consent order?

    Yes, you can get divorced without obtaining a consent order, as they are two separate legal procedures and are not compulsory, however, the implications of not having one can be serious.

    A consent order can be applied for at the decree nisi (Conditional Order) stage of divorce proceedings, but it only becomes legally binding after court approval, which typically is after the decree absolute (Final Order).

    What happens after a consent order is sealed?

    After a consent order is sealed by a court, it becomes legally binding. This means both parties must adhere to its terms. The order outlines how financial assets will be divided, and it prevents either party from making future financial claims against each other.

    Typically, a sealed consent order is sent to both parties, usually through their solicitors, either by post or electronically.

    The order ensures that the financial agreement reached during the divorce process is enforced by law, providing finality and security for both parties.

    What happens if my spouse breaches the order?

    You should always try to resolve the issue with your ex-partner directly through communication.

    If your ex-spouse continues to refuse to comply with the consent order, you may need to take legal action. This can involve going back to court and asking the judge to enforce the order.

    This can be a lengthy and expensive process, so it’s important to consider all your options before taking this step.

    If your ex-spouse still doesn’t comply with the consent order even after legal action has been taken, they may face consequences such as fines or even imprisonment.

    Overall, it’s important to remember that a consent order is a legally binding agreement and both parties are required to comply with it.

    If your ex-spouse doesn’t comply, there are steps you can take to resolve the issue, but it’s important to seek legal advice and consider all your options before taking action.

    What if our circumstances change after the consent order is in place?

    Once a consent order is approved, it’s generally final and binding. However, in certain circumstances, it is possible to apply to the court to vary or set aside the order.

    This can happen if there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as a serious illness, a substantial change in income, or other unforeseen events.

    It’s worth noting that such applications are not granted lightly, as the court prefers to uphold the finality of consent orders.

    How do children factor into the financial settlement?

    When children are involved, their welfare is the court’s primary concern. Financial settlements will consider the need to provide a stable home and adequate support for the children.

    This might mean ensuring one parent can stay in the family home or arranging for child maintenance payments.

    The court wants to ensure that the children’s needs are met both now and in the future.

    Are there any specific mistakes people should avoid when dealing with consent orders?

    One common mistake is not fully disclosing all assets and liabilities. Full financial disclosure is crucial for the court to approve the order. Any undisclosed assets can lead to the order being challenged later.

    Another pitfall is rushing the agreement without fully considering the long-term implications, especially with pensions and ongoing support.

    It’s also vital to get professional advice to ensure the agreement is fair and to understand the legal terminology used in the order.

    Obtaining a consent order is a vital step in the UK divorce process, providing a clear and legally binding resolution to financial matters.

    By properly preparing a draft consent order, ensuring full disclosure, and addressing all financial issues, you can achieve a fair and equitable divorce settlement.

    This process not only helps in finalising the financial aspects of your marriage, but it also provides a solid foundation for moving forward independently.

    Solicitor-Drafted Financial Consent Order For £449

    If you have a formal agreement with your ex-partner and wish to formalise it into a legally binding court order without spending thousands, our online consent order service is ideal for you.

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