Family Law Specialist

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Cheadle, Stockport,
Greater Manchester

What happens to your house and belongings after divorce?

There are two ways to sort out what happens to your house, savings, shares, car etc. during your divorce.

Either :

you and your husband/wife can agree between you;

Or :

you can’t agree, in which case you need someone else (a Judge) to decide what is fair.

This fact sheet deals with agreements.

Consent orders

You will need a consent order to make any agreement enforceable, or to share a pension and to remove the right to ask each other for more capital or maintenance in the future.

You might need a court order to satisfy tax requirements in the future.

Agreed court orders are called consent orders.  

For information on court applications where you are not agreed see here.


What is a consent order on divorce?

How much does it cost to apply to the court for a consent order?

What is a clean break only consent order?

What is a standard consent order?

Do I have to go to court?

How does the judge decide whether to approve the order or not?

Do I really need a consent order?

Do you have an agreement about dividing your property? Or maintenance? Is one of you going to receive part of the other’s pension?,

If so, you can ask the court to approve your agreement.

It will then have the force of a court order and is enforceable.

This type of agreed order is a consent order.

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The court fee is £53.

On top of that, you will have to pay your solicitor to prepare and submit the order for you.

I charge a fixed fee for a consent order and all the paperwork that goes with it to the court.

The amount of your personal fee will depend how detailed your agreement is and whether you need a pension sharing order.

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What is a simple clean break only consent order?

A simple clean break only consent order is an order by agreement at the end of your divorce.

This type of agreement removes rights to make any future claims for money.

This means the right to claim maintenance for example  or a pension share.

A simple clean break consent order does not contain any other terms such as transfer of property or maintenance and pension sharing.

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What is a standard consent order?

A standard consent order is a more detailed version of a simple clean break consent order.

A typical agreement will also include details of what is to happen to a property, income or pensions.

For example is it to be sold? Who is to deal with the estate agents? How much will each party receive from the proceeds of sale?

You might agree to pay maintenance for a limited time, or occasionally indefinitely. In these circumstances you will postpone the clean break until the maintenance ends.

Pension sharing is only by way of court order, including a consent order.

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Do I have to go to court?

The District Judge will reject a consent order if he/she doesn’t have enough information to decide whether the terms of your agreement are fair.

If it is properly drafted and the right supporting documents are sent with it, it can usually be done without a hearing.

It is more likely that you will be asked to attend a court hearing if

one or both of you is not represented by a solicitor; and

the order does not seem particularly fair or doesn’t make sense.

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The law sets out the factors that have to be considered by the Judge. These are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

The Judges also follow previously decided cases to help maintain consistency.

The Judges checks to see if the agreement is fair to both of you. It is more difficult to do this if there is not quite enough money to go around. This means that sometimes out of necessity one person will receive more (sometimes quite a lot more) than the other.

If there are children, particularly younger children, their housing and other needs are the priority.

There is a document which accompanies the consent order to the court and this is called a D81 statement of information for a consent order. This sets out all the basic information the District Judge needs to be able to weigh up whether your agreement is fair or not.

Some people worry that the court will not approve an order because it doesn’t look balanced. Sometimes a little extra information may be required. I can help determine if this is necessary in your case and if it is will put it in writing to the court at the appropriate time.

Judges do not reject consent orders unless there is a good reason and even where they are refused first time, they can usually be resubmitted with amendments so that the court is satisfied.

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In some circumstances you must have a consent order. For example if you want to divide a pension there must be a court order known as a Pension Sharing Order.

In the majority of cases you should have a consent order to protect yourself from future problems, but it is not mandatory.

Many people do not realise that rights to claim maintenance or property do not diminish over time. 

Marriage is a contract that provides you and your spouse with significant financial rights and responsibilities.

There is no limitation period. The only way to bring those rights to an end, is via a court order at the end of your divorce. Even an agreement must be made into a court order to make it legally binding and final.

Therefore 5 or 10 years after a divorce a former spouse can still ask for money, even if your circumstances may have completely changed.

Depending on your circumstances, there may also be tax advantages (inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax) in making your agreement official and legally binding.

So for peace of mind, if you have a financial agreement at the end of your divorce, you should always follow the simple procedure to make it legally binding and submit a consent order.

Links

Apply for a divorce on the .gov website

Consent order information on the .gov website

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Nicola Williams is a Family Law Solicitor in the AFG Law Family Team at Cheadle Royal Business Park, Brooks Drive, Manchester, Cheadle SK8 3TD