As a law firm specialising in family law, consent orders in divorce are something we regularly help our clients with. Divorce is often an uncertain time for all parties involved. To alleviate some of that uncertainty, you should make sure to have a consent order in place to deal with your finances when you divorce.

It is a common misconception that divorce finalises everything when a marriage ends. Two parties can be divorced, but their financial claims will remain open unless they obtain a consent order which is approved by a court.

What is a consent order in divorce?

A consent order in divorce is best thought of as a contract between a divorcing couple, which becomes legally binding once approved by the court. It sets out how marital assets and income are to be distributed between the divorcing couple.

What can a consent order include?

A consent order in divorce can and should include everything which forms part of the couple’s assets and income. This will also include their pensions.

If a house is to be sold, or money is to change hands, bank accounts are transferred or closed, or maintenance is to be paid, then these should all be addressed within a consent order and in a way which offers finality and closure for both parties as soon as possible.

There might be some aspects of the marital finances which cannot be immediately finalised, for example, if a pension needs to be shared or maintenance needs to be paid – but these can all be defined within a consent order and timescales stipulated so that neither party is left with any uncertainty about what is to happen.

What is a clean break consent order in divorce? 

The overall aim of a consent order in divorce is to achieve a ‘clean break’ between the parties as soon as possible. A clean break is the complete financial separation of the parties to a divorce and prevents any further financial claims against one another’s income and capital. A clean break will also prevent a claim against each other’s estate on death.  

The time at which a clean break can be achieved will vary depending on the parties’ circumstances. For example, if one party is to pay spousal maintenance, then a clean break will not be achieved until the obligation to pay maintenance ends.

What if I do not have a consent order following my divorce?

If you do not have a consent order following your divorce, financial claims will remain open. If, therefore, one party comes into good fortune after the divorce, such as a lottery win or an inheritance, the other party will be able to make a claim.

The court can make a consent order at any time from the date of pronouncement of the conditional order (formerly called decree nisi). You can still enter into a consent order even if your final order of divorce or decree absolute has been made. The team at Watson Morris Family Law can help you navigate a financial settlement alongside or following your divorce. For an initial free, no-obligation discussion to see how we can help, please contact us.

Written by Greg Bowyer

November 8, 2023

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