Consent order factsheet


 

What is a consent order?

A consent order is just a court order made with the agreement of the parties involved.

In divorce proceedings, or proceedings to dissolve a civil partnership, a consent order is usually a financial order made by agreement. Financial orders deal with what happens to your house, savings, shares, car etc during your divorce/civil partnership dissolution.

The terms of a consent order may be very similar to a separation agreement.

However, the difference is that a consent order can be sent in to the Court, where the District Judge is asked to approve it.

This approval can be requested at any time after the Decree Nisi has been pronounced.

Once it is signed and approved by the District Judge it is legally binding on both of you.

You can check how much we typically charge for a consent order here

Clean break orders start from £180 plus the court fee of £50.

Is a consent order like a separation agreement?

The terms of a consent order may be very similar to a separation agreement.

However, the difference is that a consent order can be sent in to the Court, where the District Judge is asked to approve it.

This approval can be requested at any time after the Decree Nisi has been pronounced.

Once it is signed and approved by the District Judge it is legally binding on both of you.

Separation agreements are intended to be legally binding as well; but as they are made outside of court proceedings, they aren't agreed by a judge.

You can read more about separation agreements here.

Do I have to go to court?

If the District Judge has enough information to decide whether the terms of your agreement are fair, it can usually be done without you attending court.

There are occasions when a court attendance is required.

The District Judge will usually ask you for some more details and, providing the answers are satisfactory, he/she will go on to make the order as requested.

It may be more likely that you will be asked to attend court if one of you has not taken any advice and/or the order is complicated or does not seem particularly fair to one of you.

It is more likely that your consent order will be approved first time if it is on the face of it a fair agreeent and the judge has plenty of information on which to assess that.

You should be careful to explain any division of assets which is not equal and make sure that all important financial details are clearly stated.

What is a clean break?

A clean break is actually just a clause in a consent order which dismisses rights to make certain types of claims arising out of your marriage.

Just to make things more confusing there is more than one type of clean break.

Full clean break

A full clean break consent order dismisses (in other words, prevents future applications for)

  1. future maintenance claims; and
  2. future capital claims

Capital only clean break

A capital only clean break clause in a consent order, only dismisses future capital claims and is used where there will be ongoing spousal maintenance.

Clean break after death

The court has the power to make an order to prevent claims against the estate of a dead spouse. This is sometimes referred to as a clean break on death.

It can also be included in the order for just one of you or both of you.

Is a clean break order the same thing as a consent order?

A clean break is really only part of a consent order and is only included once you have agreed how to divide your property or assets (or have already divided them and simply want to safeguard against future claims.

What is a standard consent order?

It is a phrase used to describe a normal consent order which usually contains additional standard clauses to those just providing for a clean break between you.

For example a typical standard consent order will include details of what is to happen to a property. Is it to be sold? Who is to deal with the estate agents? How much will each party receive from the proceeds of sale?

These provisions need to be drafted according to your unique circumstances.

You may think you only need the clean break clauses if you had no joint assets at all during the marriage( or you have already divided them as part of a separation agreement).

But, in the majority of cases, you will still need to recite in the order how that has been done, so that the judge has sufficient information.

Insufficient information is the main reason consent order agreements are rejected the first time they are submitted.

We have many years experience working in the Family Court and we include in our drafting as much detail as we think is necessary to have a consent order approved.

This is a specialist area and that is why the judiciary, the court service and the government all recommend that you take legal advice from a specialist solicitor or barrister before submitting a consent order and do not attempt to do it yourself.

What is included in our service?

We prepare all the paperwork you need to submit your application for a consent order to the court.

This includes:

– The application form (known as a form A);

– The D81 (known as a statement of information for a consent order); and

– The consent order itself.

– We also include a little background in section 9 of the D81 and where necessary a schedule of assets or a pension sharing annex.

Your consent order is a bespoke document, not a template; drafted by a human, not a robot.

Are there standard forms to apply for a consent order?

No.

Unlike the D81 Statement of Information, consent orders are bespoke documents. This means they must be individually drafted according to your unique circumstances.

Consent orders are all based on a precedent devised by the court, that is similar to the one below, but nevertheless you cannot submit a template consent order to the court.

This is the reason that the government website states that you need a solicitor to draft a consent order on divorce for you.

How does the consent order service work?

Firstly you need to fill in our fee enquiry form.

We will check this information to assess whether the service is suitable for your needs and whether the agreement you have reached will look fair enough to a judge to convert it into a consent order.

If we need any further information before making an assessment we will ask you for it.

Once we have assessed the service to be suitable we will send you a more detailed questionnaire, a quote and a terms of engagement.

If you are happy with the fee and the terms of service you sign and return the acceptance form.

We then prepare your consent order and supporting documents.

There is nothing to pay until you have accepted our terms and we have started work on your behalf.

How much does it cost to draw up a consent order?

Our fee for the paperwork includes all the documents you need to file your application for a consent order at court.

This includes the form A, the D81 and the draft order itself.

But not all consent orders are the same. And we don't believe you should pay the same fee for a simple order as you would for a complex one.

A single average fee would be higher for many people than one calculated according to how much work actually needs to go into preparing your documents.

And we don't think that's fair.

You don't expect to pay the electricity bill for a four bedroomed house when you live in a one bedroom flat.

So, you shouldn't be paying the same fee for your simple consent order as someone else is for a more complicated one.

Fixed fees should mean fixed for you so that you know exactly how much you are going to pay. It shouldn't mean one price fits all.

That's why we ask you to fill out our detailed questionnaire before providing you with a quote and a terms of engagement to sign if you want to proceed.

Our quote is based on your circumstances and how much work is needed to prepare your personal documents. It is your own fixed fee.

I'm worried that my situation is complicated.

Most people actually have quite straightforward arrangements.

To give you an idea of the most common fees we charge:

A straightforward, clean break consent order is £180.

An order with a little more complexity, needing perhaps a property adjustment and lump sum order and a more detailed schedule or description of assets will be around £225.

Pension sharing and settlement of property on top of these other orders is likely to start at around £270

More complex arrangements such as those involving detailed spousal maintenance, several properties or property abroad will cost more.

But for the overwhelming majority of clients we deal with, the drafting of the consent order and supporting paperwork does not exceed £360.

There is no charge for routine correspondence and communication in connection with taking your details and the preparation of the documents.

Telephone consultations and bespoke advice may be requested in addition to the preparation of documents and if so, these are charged for separately.

Is it ok not to use a solicitor for a consent order?

Choosing the sort of help you want is personal and you want to feel that you have the right balance of affordability and confidence in the ability of the service provider you choose.

And there is a widening choice now when it comes to service provider. Solicitors, barristers, online help....even a divorce hotel (yes, really).

Beware. Not all services have legal qualifications, professional indemnity insurance or an approved system of regulation.

There are businesses that look like solicitors because they call themselves "lawyers". This can be confusing and it is important to know the difference.

When it comes to court proceedings, only solicitors and barristers are allowed to represent you.

It is against the law to mislead the public or to pretend to have qualifications that you don't have.

There are a growing number of divorce "entrepreneurs" whose only experience of the legal system seems to be their own divorce, who are now setting up (sometimes very slick looking) websites offering full legal services when unfortunately they themselves don't seem to have any formal legal training or experience.

Inevitably, they will have to use a solicitor or barrister to provide services that are reserved such as advice or court representation.

You should be careful to double check who is taking responsibilty if a mistake is made and what insurance is in place if anything goes wrong. It is usually only possible to claim against the person you have a direct contract with.

Solicitors are regulated and  have to have specialist cover with a minimum sum covered of £2,000,000 per claim.

Quote for a consent order but no annoying emails if you choose not to go ahead.

We will never share your information with a third party for marketing purposes.

In fact we are bound by a duty of confidentiality to you. We will only share your details if we ask for your permission to do so in the course of working on your case (for example to send paperwork to your spouse/partner or bank) or in the very unlikely event that we are ordered to do so by a court.

We will never send you junk email or use your personal data to contact you other than to assist you with your case or in an administrative capacity, for example to invoice you or notify you of holiday closures and so on.

If you would like a better idea of how much we would charge to prepare your consent order, please fill in our fee enquiry form. Or, if you have another query about our service, please use the form below.

We will review your case and if our service is suitable, we will send you a quote, our terms of business and an acceptance form for you to send back if you would like to go ahead.

There are no hidden charges or fees.

We invoice once we have prepared your paperwork and you can pay securely online using Worldpay, the UK's largest payment provider.

Please note that we cannot respond to requests for advice unless you have completed our detailed questionnaire and signed a terms of engagement or booked a telephone consultation.

 

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