A consent order is a legally binding agreement that is voluntarily and jointly agreed by a divorcing or divorced couple to finalise all financial obligations arising from their marriage. A consent order can cover agreements on (for example) liquid assets, pensions, maintenance and inheritance. Here are some general guidance notes on consent orders. You can find more detail in our document Consent Orders. This is a simplified general guide only and is not exhaustive. If you have any queries then you must raise them with your divorce lawyer.
- A consent order can be drafted on the basis that it provides for a ‘clean break’ between the parties. This means that after it has been approved neither party has any further or future claims against the other.
- If the consent order does not provide for a ‘clean break’ then maintenance will be paid by one of the parties to the other for a specified period or until specified circumstances change. It may be possible for either party to apply to change the level of maintenance payments at a later time.
- Child maintenance can only be dealt with in a consent order if both parties agree to the level of maintenance. If there is no agreement then only the Child Support Agency has jurisdiction. However, even if there is an agreement as to child maintenance either party may apply to the Child Support Agency for this to be changed at a later date.
- A consent order does not take effect until after the Decree Absolute. The Court have not got jurisdiction to deal with and approve a consent order until after Decree Nisi.
- The District Judge looks at each consent order application individually and carefully to make sure that in the Judge’s view the agreed terms are fair and reasonable. In particular a Judge is likely to query a consent order application if one or both of the parties to the agreement have not received the benefit of independent legal advice.
- Once an agreement has been reached you will be bound by it (even before the Court has approved it) and it cannot be set aside unless very exceptional circumstances apply.