When a marriage or civil partnership breaks down, it can be a highly emotional experience. Even in the most amicable relationship splits, things can get stressful when it comes to dividing property and money. We look at what you need to know when it comes to a financial agreement vs consent order.
What is a financial agreement?
When you are divorcing or dissolving a civil partnership, you will need to divide any shared property and money, which can be complicated. Known as ‘assets’, this covers anything of value that is jointly owned between you. A financial agreement enables you to work out who gets what after you divorce, so you know where each party stands.
Many people assume that financial agreements only apply to a shared home or bank account. But you might have contributed to a joint savings or investment scheme, which needs dividing up. You might also be eligible for a share of your partner’s pension or regular maintenance payments to help you with your living expenses.
You will also need to decide what to do with your home and any other shared property. This involves deciding who lives where, especially when there are children involved. Depending on the value of the property, one person might continue contributing to the mortgage or buy the other person out. Your mortgage provider will need evidence you can make the repayments. Or, you might decide to sell the home, so you can both have a clean break and a fresh start.
Some people wrongly assume that because they have written and signed their own agreement in a document, it is legally binding. Even if you have had witnesses sign your agreement, it will not stand up in Court; this involves applying for a consent order.
Speak to our family lawyer about arranging a financial agreement. You won’t usually have to go to Court to divide your property and money, but it is advisable to get a consent order.
What is a consent order?
A ‘consent order’ is a type of legal document, which needs to be approved by a Judge. This ensures your financial agreement is legally binding and it confirms how you will divide up the following:
Shared bank and savings accounts
Property and maintenance payments, including child arrangements
Pensions and investments
In some cases, the Court might decide to make a ‘maintenance order’, when one person earns more than the other. If you are on a low income, the Court might decide that your ex-spouse or partner needs to support you with your living costs. This could be for a set period of time, or when you remarry or enter into a new civil partnership.
Without a consent order in place, there is a risk that your ex-spouse or partner could make a claim on your assets in the future. There have been cases where someone has made a claim years after a divorce has been finalised. The consent order will give you peace of mind that all financial ties between you and your ex-spouse or partner have been successfully severed.
It’s easier to apply for a consent order after you have made a financial agreement, and before your conditional order is made final. You are not able to seek approval of the Judge of the Order until you have your conditional order in the divorce process. Discuss your situation with your family solicitor, so you can divide money and property efficiently beforehand. You can do this after you have divorced or dissolved a civil partnership, but this might affect certain entitlements.
Make agreements legally binding
When you divorce or dissolve a civil partnership, it’s important to get the right legal advice early on, especially if you have children. We always recommend applying for a consent order to ensure your financial agreement is legally binding. Each party will then know where they stand and there can be no debate, leading to a smoother process for dividing up property and assets.
Salusbury Harding & Barlow has a team of experienced family lawyers, who will offer sensitive and sympathetic advice at every stage of the process. We can help you with your divorce or the dissolution of your civil partnership. We can arrange your financial agreement and apply for your consent order. We can also manage child arrangements, representing you in Court if required. Our aim is to find a mutually fair and amicable arrangement for everyone concerned.
If you need advice on financial agreements and consent orders, get in touch or email: Carly.Price@shbsolicitors.co.uk to arrangea face-to-face or telephone appointment.