Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership can be stressful and emotionally challenging. While you don’t need a financial agreement to get divorced, this type of legal document is highly recommended. It will allow you to formally divide property, money and assets. But if you want the agreement to be legally binding, you will need a consent order approved by a Judge.
Financial agreements explained
Financial agreements allow you to work out who gets what after you end a marriage or a civil partnership. Dividing shared money and property can be complex, so the main benefit is that each party knows where it stands. Your ‘assets’ cover any items of value that you jointly own.
It is often assumed that financial agreements only apply to a home or bank account shared by a couple. However, you might need to divide up joint savings and investments. Also, many people are unaware that they could be eligible for a share of their partner’s pension. Depending on your situation, you might be able to get help with living expenses through regular maintenance payments. If you have children, you will need to make child arrangements to decide who lives where and to agree ongoing financial support.
As well as your home, you might also own other shared property, which will need to be considered in a divorce or dissolution. When it comes to the property value, one person might offer to buy the other person out or continue contributing to the mortgage. This will depend on whether you can continue to make the repayments, and your mortgage provider may require evidence. In many instances, selling the home can give both parties a fresh start and a clean break.
Once you have produced and signed your financial agreement, you will then need to apply to the Court for a consent order reflecting the terms of the agreement to make the agreement legally binding. Usually, you won’t need to go to Court to have this approved.
We strongly advise getting a consent order in place to divide your property, money and assets. If you need a financial agreement, please speak to our family solicitor.
Consent orders explained
A consent order is a legal document approved by a Judge that ensures your financial agreement is legally binding. The consent order will cover the following:
· Home and other shared property
· Jointly owned bank and savings accounts
· Child arrangements and maintenance payments
· Investments and pensions
When one person is a higher income earner than the other, the Court might decide to make a ‘maintenance order’. Such examples include where one party earns a low income, and the Court decides that the other party must support them with their living costs. This order may cover a set time frame, or up until the low earner remarries or starts a new civil partnership.
Without a Judge-approved consent order, your ex-spouse or partner might be able to make a claim on your assets. This could be well into the future, many years after the divorce or dissolution. The main benefit of a consent order is the reassurance it will give you that all financial ties with your ex-spouse or partner have been cut or resolved.
You would normally apply for a consent order after you have made your financial agreement, but before a conditional order has been finalised. Until you have your conditional order during the divorce process, you cannot get the approval of the Judge. It’s important to talk through your situation with your family lawyer, so you can effectively divide everything you own that is shared between you. If you wait until after you have divorced or dissolved a civil partnership, this could affect certain entitlements.
Consent orders are important
If you’re thinking of getting a divorce or ending a civil partnership, get legal advice early on, especially if you have children. Our family law team always recommend applying for a consent order to make your financial agreement legally binding. This will help you to divide property, money and assets, as there’s no debate and each person will know where they stand.
At Salusbury Harding & Barlow, we have a team of qualified and experienced family lawyers. Whether you are getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, you will receive sensitive and sympathetic advice at every stage. Our family law team can arrange your financial agreement, and we can apply for your consent order. If needed, we can manage any child arrangements or represent you in Court. Our focus is on finding a fair and amicable solution.
If you need a financial agreement or a consent order, get in touch or email: Carly.Price@shbsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.