Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process, often involving important decisions about the division of financial assets and responsibilities for children. One legal tool that plays a significant role in this process is a Consent Order. A Consent Order is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of an agreement reached by divorcing parties. It helps solidify the division of assets and responsibilities, offering clarity and protection to both parties involved. In this article, we explore the Consent Order in the UK, the different types, effects, importance, requirements and the process of obtaining one.
Types Of Consent Order
There are primarily two types of Consent Order: children Consent Orders and financial Consent Orders.
Children Consent Orders address matters related to child arrangements, access, and child maintenance. They ensure that the best interests of the children are prioritised and that both parents are fully aware of their responsibilities.
On the other hand, financial Consent Orders pertain to the division of assets, property, debts and spousal maintenance. These orders help create a fair and equitable distribution of financial resources between the divorcing parties, enabling a smoother transition into their individual financial futures.
The Purpose Of A Consent Order
A key concept in divorce law is the “clean break.” A clean break refers to a divorce financial settlement that concludes all financial ties between the parties involved, allowing them to move forward independently without any ongoing financial obligations to each other. A Consent Order can facilitate a clean break by outlining the division of assets, ongoing financial commitments and other relevant financial matters.
Why Is A Consent Order Important?
A Consent Order provides legal clarity and certainty. It ensures that both parties are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities, minimising the potential for future disputes. By obtaining a Consent Order, both parties can move on with their lives knowing that the terms of the divorce have been legally formalised and no futher financial claims can be made in relation to the divorce.
Requirements For A Consent Order
For a Consent Order to be legally binding, certain requirements must be met. These include:
Full Financial Disclosure
Both parties must provide complete and accurate financial information, ensuring that the terms of the Consent Order are based on a clear understanding of their financial situations. This requires the completion of Form E.
Independent Legal Advice
It’s essential for both parties to seek independent legal advice from a divorce solicitor before finalising a Consent Order. This ensures that they fully comprehend the legal implications of the agreement.
The terms of the Consent Order should be fair and reasonable. The court will review the agreement to ensure that neither party is being taken advantage of.
How Do The Courts Decide On What Makes A Consent Order Fair?
The court considers several factors when evaluating the fairness of a Consent Order, including the financial needs and resources of both parties, their earning capacities, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage and the welfare of any children involved. The court’s primary concern is to achieve a fair outcome for both parties.
When Is A Consent Order Required?
A Consent Order is not mandatory for divorce proceedings, but it is highly recommended, especially when financial matters are involved. If the parties can reach an agreement, obtaining a Consent Order helps prevent future disputes and provides legal protection. There is no time limit for former couples to apply for financial settlements after divorce, meaning that many individuals are at risk of their former spouse lodging a financial claim against them, even decades after the divorce. This was brought to light in the case of Wyatt v Vince . In this case the couple divorced whilst both were poor and claiming benefits. They never obtained a Consent Order and when he became a millionaire by creating a successful eco energy business, his former wife successfully made a financial claim 27 years after they divorced.
Process Of Obtaining Consent Orders
The process of obtaining a Consent Order involves several steps:
Both parties work together (often with the help of family law solicitors or mediators) to reach an agreement on financial and custody matters.
Drafting the Order
Once an agreement is reached, a family law solicitor will draft the Consent Order detailing the terms and conditions.
Approval By The Court
The drafted Consent Order is submitted to the court for approval. The court reviews the terms to ensure they are fair and legally sound.
In some cases, a court hearing may be required if the judge has any questions or concerns about the terms of the Consent Order.
Issuance Of The Order
Once approved, the court issues the Consent Order, making it legally binding.
If the parties are not ready to divorce, they may wish to consider a Separation Agreement. This is a document that outlines how they will manage their affairs during the separation period. While not legally binding, a separation agreement can provide a basis for a future Consent Order.
If an agreement cannot be reached, it might be necessary to seek mediation or legal advice. Mediation can help parties communicate and find common ground. If mediation fails, seeking legal advice is crucial to understand your rights and options under the law.
Need A Consent Order? Talk to Tyrer Roxburgh
Navigating the complexities of divorce requires careful consideration of legal procedures and agreements. A Consent Order serves as a vital tool in ensuring that both parties are protected and their rights are upheld. By outlining the terms of the divorce, it brings clarity and finality to a challenging process, allowing individuals to move forward with their lives while maintaining their financial and parental responsibilities. Whether it’s a children consent order or a financial consent order, the goal remains the same: to create a fair and equitable resolution that benefits all parties involved.