When a couple separate, it’s very important for financial matters to be resolved.
Many couples going through a divorce can reach an agreement amicably, and so can sign a Consent Order. As the name suggests, the “consent” of both people is required, and without it a Consent Order cannot be entered into. Even if Court proceedings have started, those involved can negotiate and reach an agreement, rather than the Court having to make a decision on their behalf. This agreement can then be drafted into a Consent Order.
As with all Divorce Financial Orders, the Court will expect that there has been full and frank disclosure of each person’s financial circumstances. This information is set out within a ‘Statement of Information’ which is sent to the Court with a Consent Order.
When considering a Consent Order, the Court will look at whether the agreement reached is fair, and that there is appropriate financial provision for those involved. The Court therefore has a discretionary approach, and does not have to endorse the Consent Order, even if it is agreed by the couple getting divorced.
However, if both people have obtained independent legal advice, provided evidence of their financial circumstances and the proposed financial settlement is reasonable, it’s likely that a Consent Order will be approved. Therefore it’s always advisable to get legal advice before entering into any sort of Financial Order.
The Consent Order itself will incorporate a number of various sections which require some explanation:
- Recitals – these are agreements that have been reached between you which the Court cannot order, but should be recorded on the Consent Order to provide clarification.
- Undertakings – these are promises that are made to the Court, that if breached can be enforced by the Court. These have to be signed by the person they apply to.
- Orders – these are the agreements that the Court orders. These can include orders about property, money and pensions.
The basis of a Consent Order is to cut the financial ties that spouses and civil partners have with each other. This will prevent either person asking for further money in the future. Once a Consent Order is approved by the Court, it’s extremely difficult to argue that the agreement reached is not appropriate or fair.
There are only certain grounds on which you may be able to argue that a Consent Order should be varied or set aside. Each case would be looked at on its own individual facts, and independent legal advice should be obtained as soon as possible.