A Solicitor’s Guide to Financial Consent Orders
21st October, 2022
If you and your former spouse are going through a divorce, then it is important that you understand what a financial consent order is.
If appropriate, how do you apply for one to secure your financial agreement and sever all financial ties?
Our specialist divorce solicitors are sharing their expertise on financial consent orders in this article to help you prepare for the financial consent order process you are likely to encounter during your divorce.
What is a Financial Consent Order in Divorce?
A financial consent order is a legal document that confirms your financial agreement to the court, regarding how any of your shared assets (including property, money, pensions, and investments) will be divided upon divorce and any ongoing maintenance.
If the court approves your financial consent order, then this will make your financial agreement binding and essentially completes your divorce.
When it comes to financial consent orders, legal advice is recommended, and your consent order should be drafted by an experienced solicitor. The court is more likely to approve a consent order if both parties have had independent legal advice. If you and your former spouse are unable to come to an agreement on your finances through your solicitors, then your solicitor will advise you of your options including inviting the court to make a Financial Order.
How to Apply For a Financial Consent Order
Your divorce solicitor will support you throughout the process, helping you apply for the necessary orders during your divorce.
A financial consent order can be applied for at the conditional order (‘decree nisi’) stage of your divorce proceedings. An application cannot be made prior to this point in your divorce. Whilst there is a possibility to obtain a financial consent order after the final order (‘decree absolute’) has been granted, it could impact your entitlement to specific assets. As a result, it is best to apply before the final order.
There is currently a 20-week ‘cooling off’ period from the date that your divorce application has been issued (if issued post 6th April 2022), which allows you and your former spouse to negotiate and settle any outstanding money, asset divisions or settlements, and children. Typically, the financial agreement becomes legally binding for both parties after the judge has granted the final order, giving both parties a ‘clean break’ subject to any agreement for the paying of ongoing maintenance.
What Should Be Included Within a Consent Order?
Whilst a financial consent order typically covers the division of assets, such as money, property, investments, pensions, and savings, it can also be used to outline on-going financial obligations, including child or spousal maintenance, and rent or mortgage payments. Depending on the agreement you reach, you or your former spouse may be required to continue paying rent or mortgage on the family home for a specific time period.
If you opt to not have a financial order in place, or you fail to include specific agreements within your financial consent order, then the court are unable to enforce the agreement if one party fails to comply. It is also possible for either party to bring a financial claim months or even years after the final order has been granted although this will depend on many factors including whether the person was the applicant or respondent in the divorce and/or whether they have remarried since. In those circumstances your solicitor will guide you on whether a financial claim can be made.
How to Reach Agreements for Financial Consent Orders
Although you and your former spouse can agree on the content of your financial consent order between yourselves, we would recommend that you at least have your solicitor review or draft the agreement.
What Should We Do If We Can’t Come to An Agreement?
If you and your former spouse are unable to come to agreement for the contents of your financial consent order, then you should consult a solicitor.
How Can Our Divorce Solicitors Help?
Our specialist divorce solicitors are highly experienced in supporting clients with their financial consent orders, to ensure that it is appropriately drafted and protects you.
If you are going through a divorce and would like to discuss your financial consent order with a trusted divorce solicitor, then get in touch with the Ward Hadaway divorce team today.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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