How do I get a Consent Order? A simple guide

How do I get a Consent Order?
Rosalind Russell in the 1949 movie ‘Tell it to the Judge’ – and that, in essence, is what a Consent Order is all about

  What’s a Consent Order?

You’ve agreed the matrimonial finances. The next step is to get a Consent Order so you know it’s done and dusted. Once it’s made, neither of you can:

  • go back on the agreement
  • come back for a second bite of the cherry.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact an experienced family lawyer because your Consent Order needs to be technically accurate.

  When’s the best time to get a Consent Order?

As soon as you are in agreement. But did you know that a Consent Order cannot be made by the Court until your decree nisi has been pronounced?

  What do I send to the Court?

  What’s a ‘statement of information for Consent Order’?

This sets out your finances. It’s vital to complete it accurately. See my blog Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things You Need To Know for the dire consequences of being less than frank in financial disclosure.

  What will the Court do?

The Court’s duty is to make sure the Consent Order is fair, makes proper financial provision, and is technically correct. The Court will firstly consider the welfare of any children. It will then consider your –

  • income, earning capacity, property
  • financial needs
  • standard of living during marriage
  • ages and length of marriage 
  • disabilities
  • contributions made 
  • conduct if it would be inequitable to disregard it

If the Court isn’t convinced it’s fair, or if the order is technically incorrect, they will raise queries. These can mostly be dealt with by letter. Occasionally there can be a short Court hearing.

If you want to make sure you come to a fair agreement, read my blog Financial Settlement on Divorce, How To Get The Best One For You – 5 FAQs.

  How can a Consent Order be wrong?

If it’s unfair. For example if one of you ends up with valuable assets but the other doesn’t. But this can sometimes be fair if there are unusual circumstances such as a short marriage. See my blog Short Marriages – 10 Things You Need To Know

  How else can a Consent Order be wrong?

If there are technical errors. The Court can only make certain orders. These include:

  How to get a Consent Order right

The simplest answer is to ask an experienced family lawyer to draft it for you.

  What’s a recital/preamble?

The paragraphs above the words “By Consent it is Ordered“. What’s included?

  • Agreements that can’t be orders
  • Undertakings to the Court (an undertaking is a solemn promise to the Court)

For example to return the oil painting of your mother in law. Or to take turns looking after Rover, the beloved family pet. Or to pay the mortgage on the family home. This is relevant if the house will be yours but the mortgage is still in joint names because of financial constraints.

  But what happens if my ex ignores what’s in the recital/preamble?

You can make an application to the Court for enforcement.

  When does a Consent Order come into effect?

When it’s sealed by the Court, or when your decree absolute is obtained, whichever is later.

  How do I get a Consent Order?

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How do I get a Consent Order? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How do I get a Consent Order? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image credit for How do I get a Consent Order? Columbia’s ‘Tell it to the Judge’


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Collaborative Law – How Can It Help With Family Breakdown?

collaborative law family breakdownHow can couples move on from relationship breakdown with positive feelings? How can conflict – about money, about children – be minimised?

If I could say one thing, and one thing only, to help people mend the pain of relationship breakdown, and to translate the inevitable hurt feelings into something a lot more positive, I would say “try collaborative law“.

Did you know that collaborative law involves you and your ex, and both of your solicitors, signing an agreement that no one will issue court proceedings? This means that all of you, solicitors included, are totally committed to finding a solution. Any approach which avoids going to court has got to be good.

So how does collaborative law work? The principle is that the four of you, that’s you, your ex, and both of your solicitors, will have a series of meetings, usually three or four, and these will be organised and will proceed at a pace which is right for you. Your solicitor will be there to advise you and will communicate on your behalf with your ex and their solicitor if you don’t feel up to engaging directly yourself.

The first point to make is of course that if you can reach a final agreement over a series of three or four meetings over a period of months (but sometimes even just a few weeks), you will have saved yourself a great deal of time. Court proceedings can take much longer, a year or more sometimes.

At the first meeting you will all sign the collaborative law participation agreement. No one is going to issue court proceedings, and if they do, both of you will have to find new solicitors as the solicitors appointed to act in the collaborative process can’t continue. You also agree to be respectful to each other and to give “financial disclosure”, which means you will both have to provide details and documents proving all your income and assets. This disclosure is required whenever matrimonial finances are addressed – whether this be in negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, or court.

You agree the agenda for the second meeting. This will be the issues that are important to each of you. Every family is different and this is your opportunity to say what you want to achieve. Typically the agenda will include how the family home will be dealt with. If there are children it might be that they’re finding it difficult to adjust to the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. A priority can be exploring how to ease the transition for them.

It’s possible to involve other experts, such as counsellors to help you cope with the breakdown, or to assist the children in the transition, and financial experts who can advise on the valuation of your assets.

There’s an orderly and honest exchange of financial information at the second meeting, the focus still on what the couple want to achieve.

At the third meeting typically all the cards are put on the table. Individual priorities are known; the facts and figures are at your finger tips; you both have your solicitors there to advise and support you. There’s hard talking and inevitably compromise on both sides.

If not at the third meeting, then typically at the fourth meeting a final solution is agreed. There’s been compromise on both sides, possibly even a few tears, but you’ve achieved what seemed like the impossible by communicating and ultimately agreeing with your ex. You’ve laid the foundation for moving on with your life and putting all the heartbreak behind you. Who knows, you might even be able to be friends. You will certainly be in a stronger position to co-parent successfully, which as I have mentioned in an earlier post requires careful navigation.

You have been an active participant in the decision making process – far more empowering and healing than leaving it to a Judge to decide. And unlike mediation you (and your ex) have received advice throughout the process, and your solicitor has been with you to communicate on your behalf if you haven’t felt you wanted to engage directly with your ex.

In the court process there’s only a limited selection of orders that can be made. But in collaborative law, personal tailoring is possible, unique agreements can be reached. When you and your ex decide what’s best for your particular family, you can make agreements not generally available in court proceedings. You can agree the nuts and bolts of how you’re going to co-parent your children, where they’re going to live on a day to day basis, how you’re going to coordinate your care of them, how their individual needs can be met.

If you’re able to talk all this through – the property, the money, the children, the routine of co-parenting – then it makes it more likely that you will be able to continue being a family, a different family of course, but a family none the less, with two parents who work together in the interests of their children.

As you will have made the transition with little acrimony and are moving on with your lives separately but positively, there will be no need for your extended families and friends to take sides. You won’t dread your child’s wedding day, wondering how you and your ex will be able to sit at the top table together, let alone in the same room. You will still be a functioning family.

Collaborative law is the way to move forward positively from the breakdown of your relationship.

Wouldn’t you agree that any approach which avoids going to court has got to be good? If you have an opinion about collaborative law, please do share your comment with us, we would like to hear from you.

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JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

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The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.

image by Harland Quarrington on wikimedia


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How to Survive the Summer and Avoid Divorce

survive the summer avoid divorceYou’ve got the childcare sorted. Good start! Perhaps you and your other half are taking turns to work at home, or maybe you’re using up your holiday entitlement. If the worst comes to the worst there’s always the grandparents or a childminder or a local play scheme. So pat yourself on the back. It’s covered. Fingers crossed there’ll be no major tantrums or tummy bugs this year (and that’s just the grandparents).

So it’s time to look forward to the biggest of big treats, the long awaited and eagerly anticipated family holiday. In those weary moments between filling up the dishwasher and collapsing into bed, drink a glass of wine and dream about Bermuda, or the Balearics, or Bognor Regis – whichever charmed spot you’ve chosen this year.

Because wherever it is, it’ll be wonderful, won’t it? The days will be filled with delight for you and the children. Happy memories will be formed that will last a lifetime. The sky will be blue, the sea will be warm. In the long and fragrant evenings you and your other half with sit on the terrace/in the bar/in front of the tent, and share a bottle of wine/jug of sangria/can of lager and reflect happily on the joys of family life. As the sun goes down you will smile lovingly into each other’s eyes.

But was there ever such a perfect holiday?

For starters there’s the weather. Who knows, there might be days when it’s a bit rainy or a bit windy. There could even be a hurricane (although probably not in Bognor Regis). Then there’s the squabbling siblings, the younger one’s ceaseless chatter which provokes the older one into gloomy sulks. And there’s that gut wrenching thought as you pay for yet another expensive activity that the children would probably do just as well with a bucket and spade on the beach.

And don’t forget the querulous and hard to please other half. Last year they spent all of thirty minutes playing with the children and the rest of the holiday learning to scuba dive. How annoying was that! Or maybe they said, Here are the children, it’s your turn now, and spent the rest of the holiday flat on their back on a lilo in the middle of the pool, piña colada in hand.

The fact of the matter is summer holidays aren’t perfect and if you spend the year imagining that everything will be put right by one you will be sorely disappointed.

And sadly there’s a spike in divorces after the holidays, typically in September. But does it have to be like that? Do you have to return from your much anticipated holiday feeling betrayed and angry because your other half didn’t match up?

Of course no one advocates staying in an unhappy marriage because that’s probably no good for anyone, parents and children alike. But maybe there’s another approach. Maybe before going on holiday, maybe even before booking it, you could stand back and ask yourself, What do I want from this holiday? What can I do in advance to help make it work?

It might be an idea to talk frankly to your other half. Tell them just what it is you want. Tell them how you’d like the parenting managed. Ask them what their expectations are. Do they see it as the crowning achievement of the family’s year? They might well agree it’s an opportunity for family joy and togetherness. But they might say what they want more than anything else is relaxation, a break from the routine, some “me time”. Or maybe, deep down, they don’t like holidays at all, they really can’t stand travel, hotels, beach bars, infinity pools. What they really fancy is a fortnight hiking in the hills in a fluorescent cagoule, rounded off by wrestling with a sopping tent in the pouring rain.

It takes all sorts. You love them because they’re an individual? Right? Let’s face it, it could be that you and your other half have completely different expectations.

And to top it all did you know that some people see the summer holiday as the last chance to save a relationship. Put down in black and white that seems crazy doesn’t it? If the magic has gone, if your other half is annoying the hell out of you, maybe a more full proof method of stress testing the relationship would be to talk to them about it, address it full on. Who knows, you might be able to talk it through. Or if that doesn’t work perhaps it’s time to see a relationship counsellor. Maybe the relationship is over, or maybe it’s worth trying to save. Sometimes in the hurly burly of family life it’s easy to lose sight of each other’s needs.

If none of this works and you end the summer thinking, that’s it, I’ve had enough, then perhaps divorce is indeed the answer for you. You will be able to turn the page, find a new, independent life for yourself free of the burden and the unhappiness of your marriage.

But is divorce that easy? Looking on the bright side, it could be that you will reach an agreement about the finances and the children relatively painlessly. The marriage behind you, you embark on your new life. You bloom like a flower in the desert after a rainstorm. It’s the making of you. You’re happier, healthier and more in charge of your life.

If this is the case I’m happy for you. May you continue to prosper.

But sadly life after divorce isn’t always that simple.

You may have realistic and practical ideas about how you’ll live after the divorce but your other half might see things quite, quite differently. You might think the ideal solution would be for you and the children to stay in the family home and for the other half to move out and find a new place. This may indeed be the most sensible solution, both in practical and financial terms, and no doubt in the best interests of the children. But will your other half agree? Not necessarily. It could be they’ve got their head stuck firmly in the sand. So you contact a solicitor. You try collaborative law, or maybe mediation. These are often really excellent ways to reach a happy conclusion. But sadly cases about finances and children do reach the courts – an expensive and stressful business for all concerned.

Divorce does indeed have its downside. It could be that as you turn the page on your marriage you will find yourself starting a new life in a different home, your finances radically altered. The children may, or may not, adjust well to the new arrangements. They may or may not have good quality and regular visits with their absent parent. And you’re now functioning as a lone parent household which can be great but can also be very, very hard.

You might also find your wider relationships affected. Maybe a family member wasn’t as supportive as you’d hoped, maybe a friend tried to stay neutral and this hurt you. Suddenly it seems everything’s changed – your home, your finances, the daily slog of running everything, your relationships with your family and circle of friends.

I can honestly say I’ve never come across a client who wanted to get divorced for trivial reasons. Every client has their own unique and painful story to tell so I’m not advocating that anyone should stay married if they don’t want to and I’m not saying that divorce is a bad thing that should be avoided. I’m just making the point that if you think this summer holiday is make or break time for your relationship, please try to talk it through beforehand, manage your expectations, maybe get professional help with your relationship. Because divorce isn’t a walk in the park, it can be painful and can have long lasting consequences.

So anyway, enjoy the holidays! Let’s face it, if you can sort out the summer childcare, you can sort out anything.

Do you find the holidays stressful? We would love to hear from you so please leave us a comment.

If you have found this post interesting please sign up below for new posts by email.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family law solicitors offering personalised legal solutions.

Visit our website

The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.


image Michelle Reif (public domain)

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