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What is a consent order and do I really need one?


Rebecca Patience, a solicitor in Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team, points out the value of careful consideration to the resolution of financial matters following separation. 

One of the biggest misconceptions of divorcing couples is that once their marriage has been dissolved and decree absolute pronounced, all matters are fully concluded. However, the mere fact that you are no longer married and you no longer have a spouse, does not mean that all issues have been resolved. 

Divorcing couples should give careful consideration to the resolution of financial matters following separation. 

If agreement can be reached as to how you will divide your assets following separation, it is then very important that the agreement is recorded in a legally binding order.  If the agreement is not recorded in a legally binding order the court cannot enforce the agreement if your ex-partner changes their mind at a later date, or does not honour the agreement in some way.

In fact, if there is no legally binding order in place your ex-partner has the ability to make financial claims against you, indefinitely, even after many years have passed. 

If you want to make your agreement legally binding, you should seek the advice of a specialist family lawyer who will be able to draft a consent order on your behalf.

What is a consent order?

A consent order, sometimes referred to as a financial remedy order, is a legally binding document that records with the court the agreement reached between divorcing couples in relation to the resolution of financial matters following their separation. The consent order sets out the arrangements for the division of capital assets, liabilities, pensions and income. 

What information will the solicitor require?

Your solicitor will require details of the agreement that has been reached to enable them to prepare the consent order.  The solicitor will also require some basic financial information to prepare your statement of information, including: details of your capital assets; your liabilities; your pension provision; and your income.

The statement of information provides a snapshot of your current financial position and accompanies your consent order to provide the court with background information to your financial situation.  This information enables the court to assess the fairness of the agreement you have reached. 

The statement of information sets out your financial position. The consent order sets out how the finances are to be divided between you and your ex-partner. 

The solicitor will then draft an application form to submit your consent order and statement of information to the court for consideration of the judge.  The judge will assess the fairness of the agreement reached.   There is usually no requirement for the parties to attend court. The judge will consider the case based on the paperwork submitted by the solicitor. 

The certainty of no future claims

If the judge is satisfied the agreement is fair, the order will be approved and will be legally binding.  This gives you certainty that no future claims will be brought and that your ex-spouse will be held to the terms of the agreement reached. 

Getting a divorce cannot give you any certainty that financial ties between you and your ex-partner have been successfully split. The only way to successfully sever all financial ties from your spouse is to enter into a consent order approved by the court.

Please also see our related posts and case studies:

The resolution of financial matters following separation is a critical part of any final settlement. It is very important that the agreement is recorded in a legally binding order. To seek specialist legal advice from Harrison Drury’s family law team please contact Rebecca on 01772 258321.

Rebecca Patience is a solicitor in Harrison Drury’s divorce and family law team and is based in the Harrison Drury Lancaster office.

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