Brethertons LLP Solicitors Banner Image

News & Blogs

News and Events

What is a consent order?

  • Posted

A Consent Order is a vital legal document for divorcing couples. It sets out the terms of your financial settlement and, once the Order has been issued by a court, those terms become legally binding. A Consent Order is, therefore, how you turn a voluntarily agreed settlement into something that both parties legally have to adhere to.

In this blog, we look at why you need a Consent Order, when to get one, how you get one and other common questions people have around this issue. This should give you a basic understanding of the key issues, so you know why having a Consent Order is so important and what steps you need to take to secure one.

It should be noted that this blog is not intended as legal advice and is for educational purposes only. Should you wish to discuss your specific situation, our divorce and separation solicitors will be happy to answer any queries you may have.

For expert help with a divorce Consent Order, please call one of our offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby or simply fill out our enquiry form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Why do you need a Consent Order in divorce?

In some divorces, the separating couple will voluntarily agree on how to divide their assets, such as their home, pensions, savings and other property. This  can avoid unnecessary conflict, while also allowing finances to be settled in private much faster and with lower legal fees than if court action is needed, particularly if both parties receive specialist legal advice on how to reach an agreement

The problem is that any voluntary agreement is not automatically legally binding, so there is nothing to compel either party to follow through with what has been agreed. A Consent Order can be used to make the terms of a voluntary agreement legally binding and legally enforceable, so both parties can be confident the other will stick to what has been agreed.

Simply put, if you do not have a Consent Order after divorce, your former spouse could simply ignore what has been agreed and you would likely then need to apply to a court for a Financial Order to decide the division of finances.

When should you get a Consent Order?

You should apply for a Consent Order as soon as you have reached an agreement with your spouse on how to divide your finances. It is generally advisable to secure the Consent Order before you finalise divorce proceedings (i.e. before you apply for the Final Order that legally ends your marriage).

You should also only apply for a Consent Order after your own solicitor has reviewed the terms of your financial settlement and confirmed that they are fair. Once the Consent Order is granted, it can be very hard to change the terms of the agreement and your ex-spouse would normally need to agree to any changes.

What should be included in a divorce Consent Order?

Your Consent Order should reflect exactly what has been agreed in your divorce settlement. Therefore, it should set out how all of your marital assets will be divided. Exactly what you need to include will depend on what assets you and your spouse have and which of these are considered marital assets.

A Consent Order can also contain provisions for maintenance payments, such as spousal maintenance and child maintenance where applicable.

How do you apply for a Consent Order?

To apply for a Consent Order, you would need to have the Order drafted and ask a court to approve it. In theory, you can do this yourself, but it is normally safer to have a solicitor do this for you to make sure there are no errors.

Before submitting the Consent Order to the court for approval, you and your former spouse will need to sign it and fill in a statement of information form. One spouse will also need to complete a notice of an application for a financial order.

Please note, you will need to pay a court fee to have your Consent Order reviewed.

Can a court reject a financial Consent Order?

Yes, a court can theoretically reject a Consent Order in divorce if it believes that the terms are not fair to either party. This is one reason why it is important to have the terms of your divorce settlement reviewed by your own solicitor before accepting the terms and applying for the Consent Order.

What is the difference between a Consent Order and a Clean Break Order?

Consent Orders and Clean Break Orders are two different types of legal documents a court can issue in relation to a divorce financial settlement. In almost all cases, you will need both.

As covered above, a Consent Order is used to make the terms of a voluntary agreement legally binding. A Clean Break Order, meanwhile, is used to sever the financial connection between you and your former spouse. This means that, once you have a Clean Break Order, neither party can make any future financial claims against the other’s assets. Fail to get a Clean Break Order and your former spouse could potentially make a financial claim against you even many years after your divorce is finalised.

Normally, you would apply for the Clean Break and Consent Orders at the same time, which is something your solicitor can help with.

Can you renegotiate the terms of your settlement if you have a divorce Consent Order?

Having a divorce financial settlement Consent Order means both parties are legally obliged to stick to the terms of the agreement you made. However, this does not mean it is always impossible to renegotiate if you really need to.

If you have a good relationship with your former spouse and have a compelling reason for renegotiating, then it may be that they would be willing to work with you to find a more suitable settlement. This might be necessary if, for example, your circumstances have changed and you can no longer meet your obligations under the existing agreement or if you now need more financial support.

The difficulty would be if your former spouse is not open to renegotiating. In such cases, the fact you already have a Consent Order in place will likely limit your options. That said, if there is a strong reason why the existing terms of your settlement no longer seem fair, then you might potentially be able to apply to a court to vary the terms of your agreement.

What this should highlight is just how important it is to get the right terms and make sure you consider what would happen if your circumstances or those of your former spouse changed in future. This is where having the right support from a legal expert can be so important.

Can your spouse still make a claim against you if you have a Consent Order?

Yes, your spouse could still potentially make a claim against you in future if you have a Consent Order. This is because, as covered above, you need a Clean Break Order to cut the financial link between you and your former spouse. Therefore, it really is vital to apply for both types of orders when you have agreed on a financial settlement.

Get expert divorce advice in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby

For expert help with a Consent Order in divorce or any other aspect of financial settlements, please get in touch with a member of our team. We can also assist with any other questions or concerns you may have in relation to divorce proceedings.

We have offices in Banbury, Bicester and Rugby working with clients across Coventry and Warwickshire, the West Midlands, Oxfordshire and nationwide.