How to Protect Your Assets and the Importance of Consent Orders in Divorce

Although you can obtain a legally binding divorce without addressing the financial assets, a financial claim could be made against you by your ex-partner at any given time. An agreement or order regarding the finances should be obtained prior to the divorce being finalised. 

We advise separating couples to negotiate and mediate to reach an agreement as to how their assets will be divided. This is to ensure that matrimonial assets are distributed fairly between both parties. Once an agreement has been reached a consent order is drafted by your Solicitor and sent to the Court for approval. 

What to expect from a Consent Order:   

A consent order outlines the specific financial agreement that the divorcing parties arrived at. The consent order may include each party’s savings, property pensions, debts or investments… It may also include clauses requiring the parties to make regular payments to one another, such as child support or spousal maintenance.  The order becomes legally binding when a judge approves it or upon the final order being made. If someone were to renege, enforcement proceedings can be issued to ensure compliance with the order.

What is a ‘Clean Break’ consent order?:

It is also possible to obtain a ‘clean break’ consent order, even in cases where there are limited or no matrimonial assets. It is advisable to secure such an order in these circumstances to effectively sever the financial link between you and your spouse. Failing to obtain a financial order during the divorce leaves the door open for your ex-spouse to make a claim at any time, without any time restrictions. This potential claim against you could involve your future income, inheritance claims, bonus payments, and other financial aspects. 

Time Frame

A Consent Order can be submitted for Court approval only after the ‘Conditional Order’ in divorce proceedings has been granted. It could take between four to ten weeks for the Court to approve a consent order. 

What should you do if you haven’t obtained a Consent Order after the divorce?

A consent order can be filed at any point after your divorce is finalised. However, it is advisable to obtain the order before your divorce concludes. Obtaining a consent order after the ‘final order’ in divorce proceedings may have implications concerning accrued wealth post-divorce. Additionally, if you remarry, a situation may arise where your new spouse’s assets may need to be considered if a claim is being made against you by your ex.

How do we agree a consent order?

You can successfully negotiate the terms of a consent order either through direct communication with each other or with the assistance of a mediator or solicitor. Upon reaching an agreement (independent or not), it is crucial to involve a solicitor after the agreement has been reached to keep legal costs low. The solicitor will meticulously assess the provisions of the order, provide valuable advice on the likelihood of approval by the Judge, and seamlessly handle the drafting and finalisation process for submission.  Given the intricacies of the legal process and the need for specific provisions in consent orders, it is recommended to engage a solicitor to guide you through the process. . 

You may also prefer to utilise the services of a solicitor or mediator to assist with negotiations, as it ensures a smoother and more efficient negotiation leading to a legally sound outcome.

What happens if we can’t reach an agreement? 

If you are unable to reach an agreement in respect of matrimonial finances, you may consider issuing Court proceedings. Before taking this step, mediation should be explored.     
It is faster, cheaper, and less stressful for the parties to negotiate an agreement without court proceedings. If court intervention is necessary, it will usually involve at least three court hearings and could take between 12-18 months before a final order is made.  

Aristone Solicitors can assist in drafting your consent order and or negotiating an agreement with your spouse to help avoid an expensive court battle. Make an appointment with one of our experts to discuss your options. 

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Child and Family Law

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