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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What would Brexit mean for Family Law?

brexit and family law

by Joe Chahwan on flickr 

See February 2019 update, What Does Brexit No Deal Mean For Family Law 

On Thursday 23 June 2016 the UK will vote either to remain in or to leave the European Union.

What would Brexit mean for family law? Is this something we need to worry about? Will it make a difference?

      International Families and International Family Law

It may come as a surprise to you to know that EU regulations are extremely significant to families with an international element, and international families are on the increase.

What are ‘international families’ in this context? They are British families living in the EU, and EU families living in Britain. They are UK nationals and nationals of other EU countries who marry or enter into civil partnerships. The children of these international families are often born in a variety of EU countries.

And this increase in the number of international families is hardly surprising given the free movement of populations in the EU. According to a recent Parliamentary Briefing Paper, ‘Migration Statistics’ by Oliver Hawkins (no. SN06077, 26 May 2016) over a million Brits live in one of the other twenty seven EU countries, and about three million non-British EU citizens live in this country.

    How do EU regulations impact on Family Law?

These fall broadly under three headings:

They determine jurisdiction; in other words, in which court, and in which country, cases can be heard

They allow the recognition and enforcement of certain orders made in this country throughout the EU

They strengthen the Hague Convention on international child abduction

      Jurisdiction

If we leave the EU there will undoubtedly be implications for family law. The most significant aspect is likely to relate to jurisdiction. Where will divorce proceedings be issued? Where will children cases be heard?

    Why is jurisdiction significant in divorce?

The EU rule is that divorces proceed in the country where they are first issued. This means if the couple have different ideas about which country is best for them, it can turn into a ‘Divorce Race’. As jurisdiction can be based on a number of factors, including where the couple live, or where they originated, there is often a choice.

But why is this important? It’s because the court that deals with the divorce usually deals with the matrimonial finances too. London has the reputation of being the ‘Divorce Capital Of The World’ because the Judges in our courts have much more discretion to change the ownership of matrimonial assets than in other European countries.

This means that typically wives often do better in this country than elsewhere in the EU.

So you can see why it’s important to some people to issue their divorce in England and Wales (that’s the jurisdiction we live in), but for others, just about anywhere else in the EU.

    Children

The jurisdictional rule in respect of children is that the case is heard in the country in which they live.

    Recognition and enforcement of children and maintenance orders

Under EU regulation, orders concerning children, and the payment of maintenance are recognised and enforceable in all other EU countries. So if you have a maintenance order made in England and Wales against a French former spouse or civil partner, it can be enforced in France, or indeed in any other EU country that they might happen to move to.

    Hague Convention on international child abduction

EU rules tighten and improve the procedure under the Hague Convention on international child abduction.

    What will happen to family law if we leave the EU?

If we leave the EU these rules concerning jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of orders, and the strengthened procedure under the Hague Convention on international child abduction will no longer apply.

Assuming that we want to keep these regulations (and many family lawyers agree that we do) it is to be hoped that the government would negotiate agreements across Europe to mirror them. But the government will have its work cut out negotiating a whole raft of trade deals and you have to wonder just how high up the agenda family law will be.

The aim of any negotiation is, of course, to achieve a balanced and fair outcome. But will the outcome in terms of family law be better or worse? It is impossible to say.

    What if fresh agreements are not negotiated?

In the case of jurisdiction the rule would revert to ‘Forum Conveniens’, in other words the most convenient court would hear the case. This might be based for example on where the couple live or where their assets are.

But this approach can lead to notoriously complicated, lengthy and expensive disputes if couples have different ideas about where proceedings should be issued and courts of more than one country are involved.

    The risks

Unless the clear cut rules on jurisdiction, mutual recognition and enforceability of orders, and the strengthened procedure under the Hague Convention for international child abduction are maintained there is a risk that family law in this country could get a lot more unwieldy, costly and time consuming.

At a time when the family courts are dealing with the fall out of the changes to legal aid, and at the same time are amalgamating and closing, this would not be good news for family law.

    A period of uncertainty

Whether or not the government does negotiate fresh agreements with the EU there will be a period of uncertainty before the new procedures are in place or the old procedures are readopted. New regulations will have to be drafted, new court forms will have to be produced, and the already overloaded court system will have to get up to speed.

    The role of lawyers

There is a great deal of speculation about what might happen. In the meantime all family lawyers will be doing their utmost to reassure their international clients. If we do leave the EU and new rules are put in place, family lawyers will be making sure they and their staff are appropriately trained and that their clients are properly advised.

    Summary 

  • EU regulations are important in family law when it comes to jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of court orders, and the procedure under the Hague Convention for international child abduction
  • These regulations are of particular significance to international families, in other words British families living in the EU, and EU families living in Britain, and to marriages and civil partnerships involving members of different EU countries, or EU countries and non-EU countries
  • If we leave the EU these regulations will no longer apply.
  • There will be a period of uncertainty
    • Either new agreements will have to be negotiated, or the old pre-EU rules will apply
    • The old pre-EU rules, particularly those relating to jurisdiction, could lead to complicated, lengthy and expensive court cases
    • How easily will the court system cope?
  • Family solicitors will be monitoring the situation and will ensure that they are up to date at all times during this process in order to advise their international family clients

Do you think that Brexit will affect you or your family? We would love to hear from you with your opinion so please leave us a comment.

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

Visit our website just-family-law.com

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