Financial consent orders explained

After a divorce, it can be difficult to decide who gets what in terms of property, investments and money. It can be especially tricky if the relationship did not end amicably. This is where a financial consent order can come in handy. 

What is a financial consent order?

A financial consent order is a legally binding document that outlines the rights both individuals have to shared assets after a divorce. Consent orders are the best way for a couple to avoid going to court to decide who gets what. Both partners must first seek independent legal advice about the consent order’s terms and then sign it to say that they agree to these terms.

In order for a financial consent order to be drafted and become legally binding, the couple must reach a financial settlement that they both agree upon. If the couple is amicable, this process can be quick. However, if the separation has been complex, the couple do not agree on who deserves what and/or there are a lot of assets to sort out, the financial settlement process can take longer.

If you and your spouse have children together, it is possible to agree upon child maintenance arrangements going forward at the same time as you set out the terms of your consent order. Consent orders can be drafted once the paperwork to end the marriage or civil partnership has been started, but any orders will have to be finalised before the final legal document (decree absolute or final order) ending the marriage or partnership is applied for.

Why would you need a financial consent order?

Financial consent orders are very helpful, especially in the UK, because in the UK ex-spouses can make a claim for assets that their ex-partner acquired even after their divorce was finalised. If a financial consent order is produced at the same time as the divorce, it finalises all financial ties and prevents exes from claiming for assets.

It is also possible for people to take their ex-partners to court to make a claim for a share of the assets shared during the marriage if a financial consent order is not in place. This means that the decision over who gets what will fall down to the court, rather than the person who owns the assets. This can lead to upset and friction between the couple, because they may not agree with how the assets have been split. A financial consent order prevents this kind of upset from happening and can save both people in the couple time and money in the long run.

Are consent orders essential in divorce?

No, consent orders are not essential, meaning that it is not mandatory to apply for one when you apply for your divorce. However, as outlined above it is a good idea to obtain a financial consent order when you divorce because it is the best way for the individuals to fairly split and protect shared assets. 

It might be tempting to simply make an informal agreement about divorce and property with your spouse about who gets what. However, if your amicable relationship turns sour in the future, there will be nothing to legally enforce who is entitled to what assets, which could end up causing upset.

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