When a family finds itself going through tough times, one of the best remedies can be a plan for the future which can help bring clarity to an otherwise murky situation. Even when a family is breaking apart, being certain about how assets are being divided can bring some much needed stability, and provide a base on which to build up from.
What is a consent order?
A consent order is a type of Court order which confirms and approves what the two people have agreed. It explains how they would legally divide up assets such as:
It can also include arrangements for maintenance payments, including child maintenance.
Consent orders are directly enforceable. Should they be breached, the innocent party is entitled to taking enforcement action against such breach. They are a common feature of legal settlements, which is why proper legal representation should be sought when obtaining one.
It is important to bear in mind that a consent order can only be entered into in if both parties ‘consent’ to the agreement. If possible, working together to finalise the consent order is the simplest and least costly way to reach an agreement.
Why are consent orders important?
In our experience, when people are going through a divorce they really crave the independence and freedom available to them when they cross the finish line. Consent orders are a huge part of that and will help the couple achieve a ‘clean break’ from one another. Consent orders ensure that the financial ties between the two of them are clear cut and neither party can make further financial claims on the other in the future unless in exceptional circumstances, such as one party failing to make frank disclosure of his/her properties in the first place.
If due to change of circumstances, one party finds it difficult or unreasonable to continue to comply with the consent order, the right way for the party to do is to apply to vary it. It is always not advisable to simply ignore the consent order.
When to apply for a consent order
Couples can ask the court to approve their draft consent order if they have started the paperwork to divorce or end their civil partnership.
It is usually more straightforward to divide money and property before the application for the final legal document to end the relationship is made.
The final legal document is the:
- decree absolute if the couple is divorcing
- final order if they are ending a civil partnership
Money and property can be divided after the divorce is finalised or civil partnership has ended. This may change what each person is entitled to get and they may have to pay tax on it.
How to ask the court for approval
The split couple will have to:
- draft a consent order
- sign the draft consent order – they also need 2 photocopies of the signed original
- fill in a statement of information form (this simply helps the court decide if the financial and property arrangements between the two parties are fair.)
One person from the splitting couple will also need to fill in a notice of an application for a financial order (which is standard procedure for financial based proceedings).
Once this has been done, the couple send the completed and signed forms to the court dealing with the divorce paperwork. The couple should also keep copies for their own reference. Also, the fee of £50 must be sent with these papers. Help with this fee is available, sometimes, depending on the financial position of the applicants.
What do we think?
First and foremost, we will always encourage our clients to reach an agreement on their own terms; an amicable solution is always the aim.
We are always here to help couples reach that agreement, should they need the guidance. You will find in us a rock to lean on, and our expert team of family lawyers will take the weight from your shoulders and lead you to a resolution that works for everyone.
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