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Consent Orders

Blanchards Law is a niche family law practice with divorce solicitors, mediators and collaborative lawyers.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or email us at info@blanchardslaw.co.uk

Consent Orders can be used in most family law cases, including Divorce Financial Proceedings, proceedings relating to Children or in Family Law Act proceedings. A Consent Order can only be used if an agreement has been reached and you want the Court to approve formally and seal the Consent Order.

A Consent Order is intended to formalise the agreements reached, And therefore can be filed with the Court at the start of Court proceedings (along with an application to the Court), or at any stage during the proceedings when an agreement has been reached.

The Court will welcome a Consent Order, as it shows that everyone involved has made every effort to compromise, which saves the Court’s time and resources and also saves you and your former partner money and time.

Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or email us at info@blanchardslaw.co.uk

If you have questions about a consent order, or an agreement which you have reached which needs to be drawn up into a consent order, please give us a call on a free, no obligation basis, and we will be happy to discuss these and our likely fees with you.

What is a Consent Order?

A Consent Order (or financial consent order) is a legally binding document which sets out how you intend to separate your assets and finances when ending your marriage and is made by agreement between the separating parties. A Consent Order is an Order drafted by a Family Law Solicitor. It will be drafted in the same format as a Court Order, but it will confirm that you and your former partner have agreed ‘by consent’

Obtaining a consent order is the only way divorcing parties can ensure that any financial agreement reached is legally enforceable, which will then prevent any future claims being made by either party. It can determine how and when assets are divided between you and your ex-partner, as well as a record of steps you have already taken to separate your finances.

Often, when couples think about getting a divorce they do not realise that finances are dealt with separately to the divorce process itself. Furthermore, many couples are unaware that when you have gone through the final steps of divorce, financial claims can still be made by your ex-partner until a final Financial Order is made by the Court. A Consent Order is recommended for this reason, even if neither party is seeking an adjustment of assets. It will outline the key agreements reached which relate to your finances and/or your children.

You remain at risk of a financial claim by your ex-partner following a divorce, if you do not enter into a Consent Order in Court

Assets within a Consent Order can include:

  • Income (such as spousal or child maintenance)
  • Pensions
  • Investments
  • Property
  • Debts

Why would you need a Consent Order?

Filing a Consent Order with the Court may cancel any upcoming hearings and could mean the proceedings conclude early. This can save you and your former partner a lot of money as you probably won’t need representation at Court. You will also save money on your Solicitor’s fees.

A Consent Order will completely separate all financial responsibilities you have with each other after the divorce, save for any ongoing obligations such as spousal or child maintenance. The document will also protect each party, should the other party try to claim any additional finances or assets in the future.

When making an application for a consent order, you will need to complete a Form A (the application form), a Statement of Information form (which provides the Court with a summary of your financial situation to give the Consent Order context) and, if your consent order includes an adjustment in respect of pensions, a Pension Sharing Annex.

Consent Order in children proceedings – point to note:

It is important to note that with child proceedings, the Court may want to ensure that the necessary initial checks have been completed on you and your former partner and that there’s no risk of harm to the child. This could mean that you need to liaise with a CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) officer to complete the relevant checks before the Judge will approve the Consent Order.

Before applying for a Consent Order in divorce

Once the parties have reached “Decree Nisi” stage in their divorce then it will be open to them to make an application to the court for a financial order. However, it is recommended that you obtain a Consent Order before applying for a Decree Absolute. Decree Absolute ends your marriage even if finances have not yet been dealt with, which in some cases may result in a loss of legal rights in relation to pensions, occupation of the matrimonial home and even inheritance aspects.

The court will always encourage parties to reach an agreement between themselves and to do so amicably as possible. If an agreement can be reached, whether between the parties independently, or through negotiations in mediation or through the parties’ respective solicitors, it is important that this agreement is recorded within a “Consent Order”.

Your Consent Order can be rejected

The Court can decline your application regardless of whether you are both happy with the final document. The Court will only grant the Consent Order if the Judge reviewing it believes that the division of assets is fair for both parties. The Court has a duty to consider the nature and effect of the order and it is not a case of simply “rubber stamping” an agreement.

The court will consider whether the agreement represents fair and proper financial provision for the parties and in doing so will look at all the circumstances of the case. If the court is satisfied that the agreement reached is fair, then they will seal the order. If the judge is not satisfied, then he or she may return the forms to ask for clarification or order the parties to attend a hearing. You may have to provide further information on how you both came to your agreed decision to ensure both parties are fully aware of what is being proposed.

If your application has supplied sufficient information and is successful there should be no reason for you to attend court.

The team at Blanchards Law have dealt with literally thousands of Consent Orders. We can advise and guide you through the Consent Order process to ensure all relevant documents are completed, all information meets the court’s requirements and that the Consent Order will take effect as you intend.

Often, the Consent Order will provide for a “clean break” which bars either party from making a claim on the other’s finances in life and in death. The parties will therefore be able to start anew and will no longer be dependent financially on one another. The court is under a duty to consider whether a clean break can be made. This will not be possible immediately where the order makes provision of maintenance.

Depending on the nature of the agreement reached between the parties, the Consent Order can make provision for a variety of financial orders including lump sum payments, property adjustment orders to include the sale of the property, pension provision such as pension sharing and pension attachment orders and maintenance- whether spousal, or in some circumstances, child maintenance.

It is therefore essential that the Consent Order is correctly drafted to reflect what has been agreed by the parties and to provide for a clean break if appropriate.

If you and your former partner can come to an agreement, you won’t need to go to Court and you can use a Consent Order. A Consent Order details the agreement you’ve come to and can be used in the majority of Court Proceedings under the Children Act, Matrimonial Causes Act and Family Law Act, as well as other family law proceedings.

You should always get legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor when agreeing a Consent Order. This will ensure that you get the best legal protection and that all relevant legal principles are considered.

Using a Family Solicitor when producing a Consent Order can really help you to make sure you know what you are entitled to and insert all the relevant clauses so you get the best protection possible.

At the very least, make sure you get legal advice on the draft Order and ask a Family Law Solicitor to review it before it goes to the Court.

Getting the correct legal advice will mean that it’s less likely that you and your former partner will have to return to Court in the future, have a disagreement over the Order or come up against a technicality that the Court needs clarification on.

If you are getting a divorce, the Consent Order should be viewed as an essential part of the divorce, as well as the Decree Absolute. It is difficult and expensive to vary a spousal maintenance order later. It is important to get advice and get the order right first time.

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or email us at info@blanchardslaw.co.uk

Stories & case studies to help you

Please read our blogs on our consent orders work and practice. Like you, many client have come to us because the blogs are informative and designed to help you understand what you can do to resolve your situation.

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