Family Law Specialist

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Nicola Williams Solicitor

Cheadle, Stockport,
Greater Manchester

Taking advice on the terms of a consent order

The aim at the end of a divorce is for both spouses to move on with financial independence.

All spouses have the right to claim a fair share of the matrimonial assets. These rights do not automatically end with divorce and can be exercised many years later.

Money and Property when you divorce or separate

The government recommends that everyone has a written financial agreement at the end of a divorce and asks the divorce court to make a ‘consent order’ at the end of the divorce process.

Your rights to make future financial claims against each other are usually removed by a ‘clean break clause’ in the consent order.

It’s important that you fully understand the detail of any financial agreement. It must deal with all of your financial issues before the clean break is effective. If not, you may be left with no right to claim your fair share.

In this article, I will tell you why you should take advice on the terms of a consent order, when is the best time to do it and how much you should expect to pay.

Why you need to take advice before signing a consent order

A consent order is a legally binding agreement. You cannot usually change your mind once the terms have been agreed.

It is also a court order. If you can’t do what you are ordered to do, you may be in contempt of court and end up with a fine, or worse.

You and your spouse have agreed the reasons why the consent order should be made. Therefore, it cannot usually be appealed.

A consent order will usually affect your most important and valuable asset, such as your house. Failure to take advice could leave you unable to sell or live in your property or even get a mortgage elsewhere.

If you’ve misunderstood any part of the agreement or missed something out that you either didn’t realise needed to be dealt with in the written agreement or thought was covered and it wasn’t, you could end up with a serious problem.

It is best to double check first that the document you are considering signing is right for you.

Taking advice should be straightforward and good value for money

Before every initial consultation we ask clients to complete a detailed questionnaire. It provides us with the background we need to deal with your queries and advise you efficiently.

This means that we can provide straightforward legal advice from our first meeting, that is good quality at an affordable price.

How much does our legal advice cost?

A standard consultation costs between £150 plus VAT and £300 plus VAT.

Time Our Fee VAT Total
Up to 45 minutes £150 £30 £180
45-60 minutes £200 £40 £240
60-90 minutes £300 £60 £360

An initial consultation includes an element of discount. It costs £150 plus VAT but lasts around an hour.

Before the first meeting you will complete a detailed questionnaire.

There is a mandatory ID check for all clients. This costs £15 in addition to our fee.

 

Solicitor consultation – how long do you need?

With the right information, an experienced solicitor can give you fairly comprehensive advice on the principles that apply to your situation, in about an hour to an hour and a half.

This won’t include a full analysis of your financial disclosure. But it will be enough for you to make up your mind about whether the agreement you are being asked to sign needs amendment – or whether you need more time to reflect.

In straightforward agreed cases up to an hour is usually long enough to help you decide whether you can go ahead and sign the consent order.

When to take advice

Every year we see dozens of people who want advice, either because they have changed their minds on their financial  agreement, or they aren’t entirely sure what they have agreed to.

The first issue they have to deal with, is whether it is too late to do anything about it. Once an agreement has been confirmed in writing (even by text) or a consent order has been signed, it can be too late to change your mind – even if it has not been sent to the court yet.

Ideally, it is better to take advice before you begin talks with your spouse/partner. Find out your options. You have rights (and responsibilities) as a parent and or as a spouse/civil partner.

Whether you are negotiating in your kitchen, somewhere neutral or via mediation, you will find it easier and less stressful if you understand the legal framework a little better from the outset.

At the very least a meeting with a solicitor can help you understand the most important principles of sharing and needs and how they might apply to you.

Mediation

Most separating couples will be encouraged to try mediation to help them agree how to separate their finances and agree arrangements for their children.

One of the great advantages of mediation is that all negotiations are without prejudice. This means that none of the discussions you have can be brought up in court at a later date and used against you.

At some point in a successful mediation, you will have the outline of an agreement. At this stage, your mediator will suggest that, whether you have seen a solicitor already or not, you take advice on how workable the agreement is for you.

Your solicitor can advise you and also draft the legally binding written version of the agreement. This will become the consent order.

Consent order packages

Our standard consent order package costs £750 plus VAT.

There is also a court fee of £58 and an ID check fee of £15.

The consent order package includes an element of advice and drafting/reviewing documents.

Summary

It costs around £200 plus VAT on average to take essential advice on the terms of a consent order.  An initial meeting with an experienced solicitor will take around an hour.

Take advice on a consent order:

  • before you begin talks with your spouse.
  • you are unsure of anything during the mediation process
  • before confirming agreement in writing or
  • before signing a consent order

Fixed fees and consent order packages are available.

 

 

 

Nicola Williams Solicitor
Family law accredited specialist solicitor
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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