Consent Order Information in England and Wales
What you need to know about consent orders
- What is a consent order
- Things to consider before applying
- Why obtain a consent order
- How to obtain a financial order
- What can be included in a consent order
- how long does it take to obtain a consent order
- What to do if a judge rejects your order
- Advantages to obtaining a financial consent order
- What can happen if I don’t get a consent order
- Do I have to go to court
- What are the court fees associated with a financial order
- How Divorce-Online can help you
What is a consent order?
A consent order, is an order made by a judge in divorce proceedings, where both parties have agreed their financial settlement and consent to an order being made without the need for a court hearing.
The consent order agreement will explain to the court how you intend to split assets such as money, property and savings.
The order can also include details on spousal and/or child maintenance arrangements, which enables the family court to enforce these if the maintenance is not paid.
Most financial orders that are made of consent, make for a clean break order, which severs all financial ties following your divorce.
If parties agree how property and money is to be divided you don't need to complete any official paperwork or apply for a court order.
However, this means that your agreement isn't legally binding and therefore the court cannot enforce it.
An order can be applied for at the decree nisi stage of a divorce and becomes legally binding when the Decree Absolute has been granted in the divorce proceedings.
Things to consider before applying for a consent order
If you are in the process of divorce and are now considering the terms of your financial settlement, there are 3 things to really consider before signing the order.
1. Don’t assume a 50/50 split is fair
In most instances, starting at 50/50 is right, but don’t assume that’s right for you without looking at the finer details of your marriage, such as earning potential and childcare responsibilities.
For example, short marriages are often not split 50/50.
It would be unfair to settle for a 50/50 split if there have been inherited assets or vastly different contributions made to held assets from one spouse.
2. Don’t assume the Judge will grant your order
Couples often assume that just because they’ve agreed a financial settlement that the Judge will grant them their order.
However, this is a dangerous attitude to have as the Judge will only grant the order if he or she feels that the order is fair to both parties.
If they believe the order to be unfair to either party, you will likely be asked to provide more information on how you came to the settlement to ensure both parties understand the order being proposed.
3. Ensure you have full financial disclosure
This is one of the most important parts of agreeing a fair financial settlement.
You can’t come to a fair deal with your money, property and assets if both parties don’t have a full understanding of their spouse’s full income, assets and pension values.
If you don’t believe there’s full disclosure on money, capital or pensions, we’d recommend that you get some low-cost legal advice.
Why should I get a consent order?
It is always sensible to draw a line in the sand when it comes to splitting your financial matters in a divorce.
If you are selling property, or transferring property, making a pension sharing order or paying over money, then you are advised to obtain a consent order, to make sure the other party carries out what they have agreed.
Most of all, obtaining the order will stop either spouse attempting to claim for more money or assets at a later date, which gives both parties protection once the divorce is finalised.
Only by obtaining a court order to separate your finances will you sever financial ties from your spouse, as getting a divorce does not do this alone.
How to obtain a consent order?
A consent order is a legal document that has to be drafted by an experienced legal professional with years of training to become legally binding.
There are specific legal rules as to how a consent order should be drafted and what can and cannot be included in one, which we will be able to advise you on before you choose to obtain one.
The consent order can be applied for once the decree nisi has been granted in the divorce proceedings and not before.
Also, you cannot have a consent order without a divorce having been issued first.
If you're considering applying for a financial order to legally separate your money, property and assets, then view our services below.
What can be included in a consent order?
Anything in relation to your financial situation can be included in a consent order.
The court has powers to make orders for;
- Maintenance (Child & Spousal)
- Sale or transfer of property
- The payment of lump sums of money
- Pension sharing orders
- Debt provision.
Anything the court cannot specifically order can be dealt with by way of what is called an undertaking, which is a promise to the court to do something. If this undertaking is broken, the court can enforce it, using contempt of court rules.
If you are unsure about what can be included in your financial order, call us on 01793 384 029 and speak to our friendly divorce experts for free help and advice.
Consent order timescales - how long does it take?
If the contents of your consent order are very straightforward the court normally takes 3-5 weeks to process the application.
However, this is dependent on which court you use to file the order with as courts in large areas such as London are likely to have a longer timescale.
If the agreement appears fair then the Judge should approve it, however, if there are issues the judge can write back requesting further information to help them make a decision.
If the Judge is still not satisfied they can call a hearing with both parties to attend, but this is quite rare in our experience. This would obviously extend the time until completion of the order.
If you are not in agreement the process can take a lot longer as there is a more for the court to consider.
The judge will assess the finances infront of him or her and decide how it is to be split, and not you.
If you can come to an agreement with your spouse it will prevent longer time frames, more costs and less stress for all concerned.
We can help you obtain a consent order within 3-5 weeks by having our solicitors draft your formal written or verbal agreement and processing it through court for you, for just £199.
Not only is this service fast, it's also likely to save you over £750 compared to most high-street solicitors.
What to do if the judge rejects your consent order?
The first thing to do is not panic and make any rash decisions.
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 are the advantages of a consent order?
The main advantage is that you don’t need to go to court and argue your case before a judge. The consent order process is designed to be quick and amicable, without attending court.
As long as both parties agree and the order is generally fair, the Judge will grant the consent order without the need for any further hearings or correspondence.
If the judge thinks the order is unbalanced, they will generally ask the parties to write in and explain how they came to the order.
On rare occasions, they may ask the parties to attend a short hearing to ensure both parties have entered into the consent ordervwith full understanding and have not been placed under any duress.
What could happen if I don’t get a consent order?
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 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 have to go to court to file a consent order?
No, you don’t need to physically attend a 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 has been registered at court, it will be sent to a judge to approve the order.
What are the court fees associated with a financial order?
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.
How Divorce-Online can help you obtain a consent order
We make the process of obtaining a consent order quicker and easier by dealing with everything for you.
When using Divorce-Online, you’ll have a qualified family solicitor with over 20 years experience draft your financial order based on your agreement, so you can be rest assured that you are in safe hands.
We can have your order drafted within 7 days to make sure there is a swift resolution to legally separating your finances.