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What is a consent order and do I need one when getting divorced?

View profile for Deborah Nicholson
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When a couple marries or enters into a civil partnership, their individual finances become one. However, the point to be aware of is that divorce or dissolution does not automatically separate your finances.

Upon divorce or dissolution, both parties’ non-matrimonial (acquired prior to marriage) and matrimonial (acquired during marriage) will be considered in the division of finances.

Divorcing spouses or dissolving partners have two choices, to amicably come to an agreement (this route is first encouraged by the courts) or to let the court make a legally binding decision. It is, however, important to be aware that amicable agreements, known as voluntary divorce financial settlements, are not legally binding until a consent order is approved and sealed by the court.

Here we take a closer look at financial consent orders, what they are and do, and whether you need one when getting divorced, along with other pressing frequently asked questions concerning consent orders.

What is a consent order in divorce?

A financial consent order in divorce is a legally binding order that determines how a couple’s finances, will be divided.

A consent order is sometimes alternatively referred to as a ‘clean break order’, but this is only where there are no financial arrangements that continue to link the divorced spouses, for example, where spousal maintenance is not required.

What does a consent order include?

A consent order basically makes the arrangements you’ve agreed to in your divorce financial settlement legally binding, so the terms do not change. Typically a consent will include some or all of the following details:

  • Property
  • Pensions
  • Savings
  • Investments
  • Inheritance,
  • Maintenance pensions

What does a consent order do?

The purpose of a consent order is to make a voluntary divorce financial settlement legally binding so that neither party can claim against their ex-spouse’s finances in the future. For example, if you receive an inheritance, your ex-spouse might be able to make a claim against you, if there is no consent order in place.

Without a financial consent order, a couple’s agreed voluntary financial divorce settlement is not considered legally binding, and the court will not be able to enforce it, potentially resulting in your financial interests being impacted.

Is it worth getting a consent order?

Yes, it is worth getting a consent order. The only way to protect your finances from your ex-spouse is by having a consent order in place. Without one, any agreement you have made is not legally enforceable.

What happens after a consent order is signed?

Once a consent order has been approved by the court, it makes the order legally binding, and both parties are required to follow the set terms. If either party breaches the order, for example, does not pay spousal maintenance, the other party can ask the court to enforce the order.   

What is the difference between a court order and a consent order?

When it comes to divorce financial settlements, there are two types of orders, a court order and a consent order.

A court order is obtained when you and your ex-spouse are unable to come to an agreement concerning the division of finances between yourselves, meaning you require the assistance of the court who will make what they consider to be a fair settlement on your behalf based on a number of factors concerning each party’s circumstances and the marriage.

In comparison, a consent order is used to make a voluntary divorce financial settlement agreed by the divorcing party legally binding.

Do you need a consent order to get divorced?

Not having a consent order doesn’t prevent you from being able to get a divorce, but it does, however, keep you and your ex-spouse financially linked to one another. So to have a completely clean break from your ex-spouse and prevent any financial claims down the line, obtaining a consent order is essential.

Do both parties need a solicitor for a consent order?

A consent order in divorce can be agreed upon without the assistance of a solicitor. However, due to the document being a legally binding order, it should be drafted by a qualified solicitor.

There is no requirement for the parties to seek legal advice on a consent order but it is highly recommended to seek legal advice and support from a solicitor when entering into negotiations and agreeing on the terms of the order with your ex-spouse. The reason for this is to ensure that the terms are fair to both parties and any children involved with the marriage, otherwise, the court may choose to reject the order, essential being more costly and time-consuming.

What happens after a consent order is approved?

Once a divorce consent order has been approved and sealed by the court, it is a legally binding order.   

Get in touch with our divorce lawyers in Tonbridge, Kent

To arrange an initial fixed cost appointment with our divorce law solicitors for your divorce consent order, please call us on 01732 353305 or use our simple contact form, and we will get back to you quickly.

Bailey & Cogger Solicitors is now incorporated by Hatten Wyatt, meaning you can also access our divorce law expertise through local offices in ChathamGravesendMaidstone and Tenterden.

We can also offer meetings by Zoom for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad, or do not wish to attend the office.