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Why it is Vital to Get a Consent Order

There are many matters to consider when getting divorced, with finances and arrangements for children being the most pressing. If you and your spouse can negotiate how to divide your finances between yourselves without having to go to Court, you will not only save yourself considerable money, but the divorce process will be a lot less contentious and stressful. However, just because you have agreed on a financial settlement does not mean that you have a legally binding agreement. For that, you need a Consent Order which is issued by the Family Court.


The importance of Consent Orders in a divorce cannot be overstated. They provide a fair and final settlement of the financial relationship between the spouses. Without a Consent Order, financial claims may remain open indefinitely, leading to potential future disputes and financial uncertainty for both parties.

What is a Consent Order?

A Consent Order is a court-approved document that sets out how a couple have agreed to divide their finances upon getting divorced, acting as a finalised financial settlement. They encompass various features, including division of property, pensions, savings, investments, vehicles, and agreed ongoing spousal maintenance payments (if applicable). This binding legal document ensures that financial obligations are clearly defined, agreed upon, and enforceable, providing both parties with the financial security and clarity needed to move forward after a divorce.


What is the process of getting a Consent Order?

The process of achieving a financial order by consent begins with both parties receiving legal advice and then negotiating how their matrimonial property and assets will be separated. Both spouses need to make a full and frank disclosure regarding their finances. 


If a dispute develops at any stage of the process, you and your spouse can agree to attend mediation in order to reach a resolution.


Once an agreement has been reached, your Solicitor will draft a Consent Order and submit it to the Court for approval. It is imperative to have an experienced Divorce Solicitor draw up the Consent Order, as a poorly drafted agreement will not be accepted by the Family Court.


A judge will review and approve the financial Consent Order. The Courts have a duty to review Consent Orders in line with the factors listed under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This requires assessing whether the agreement is fair and reasonable, considering the individual needs and circumstances of both parties and any children. Factors considered include the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the standard of living during the marriage, and the contributions made by each party, among others.


In most cases, unless it deems that granting the Consent Order will lead to unfairness or there are issues requiring further investigation, the Court will generally approve a Consent Order submitted by a Family Law Solicitor.


What if parties cannot agree on how to divide matrimonial property and assets?

If you and your spouse are unable to agree on the terms of a Consent Order, either through negotiation or mediation, you may need to file proceedings in the Family Court. A judge will examine the assets and property that must be divided and apply the factors listed under section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.


What happens if one party breaches the terms of a Consent Order?

Once approved by the Court, the Consent Order becomes a legally binding document. Any breach of the terms can lead to enforcement proceedings. The finality it provides means that neither party can make additional financial claims against the other in the future, except under very limited and exceptional circumstances (see below).


Is it possible to vary a Consent Order?

Though a financial Consent Order is intended to be final, it may be possible to apply to the Court to vary the order if there has been a significant and unforeseen change in circumstances, such as loss of employment or serious illness. However, this is generally rare and requires compelling reasons. Fraud and/or misrepresentation by one party can also lead to a Consent Order being set aside.


What Our Experts Have to Say on Consent Orders

Consent Orders provide a necessary legal structure to finalise the division of matrimonial property and assets between divorcing spouses. They promote fairness, provide clarity, and help avoid future disputes. Navigating this complex area of law requires professional legal advice to ensure that the agreement reflects the true intentions of the parties and complies with legal requirements. By investing in a properly negotiated and drafted Consent Order, you and your spouse can achieve a sense of closure and security, allowing you both to move on to the next phase of your lives with confidence.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. We have a highly experienced family law team who can assist you with your divorce or civil partnership dissolution. To make an appointment, please call us on 01932 840 111.

22 May 2024
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