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Can I change a Consent Order?
A Consent Order lays out the financial arrangements between a divorcing couple, usually after the Decree Nisi has been issued, and makes them legally binding. Divorcing couples are encouraged to try to amicably come to an agreement between themselves or through mediation. Sometimes, however, it may be necessary for the courts to intervene. Regardless of how you come to an agreement, a judge has the right to amend any order if they deem it to be unfair in any way.
Consent Orders are usually considered a ‘clean break’ between a divorcing couple, meaning that neither person will be able to make a future financial claim against the other. However sometimes circumstances change, and it may be necessary to alter this agreement. It’s important to know when you can make a change to a Consent Order and how to go about it.
What does a Consent Order include?
When drafting a Consent Order, each party will have to fully disclose all their financial assets and circumstances in a ‘Statement of Information’. Your financial assets will include things such as:
- Property (both jointly and solely owned)
- Savings, investments and pensions (including business assets)
- Personal possessions – e.g. furniture
- Spousal maintenance
- Child maintenance
- Any other expenses e.g. private healthcare
You can include arrangements for child maintenance in the Consent Order or you can come to an agreement about this separately at a later date.
It is important that you and your spouse are completely honest about the financial assets that you hold, as failure to fully disclose your finances could render the Consent Order void and trigger the court to enforce the agreement.
A family law solicitor can help you calculate the value of your assets accurately and ensure that the Consent Order is drafted correctly. A solicitor can also act as a mediator to ensure you and your ex can come to an agreement without any disputes.
How to get a Consent Order
Once you’ve come to an agreement, you and your ex will both need to complete a ‘Notice of Application’ for the Consent Order and send it to the court along with the Statement of Information Form and the £50 court fee.
Once received, a judge will check that the terms of the agreement are legal and fair to both parties. If they have any queries, they will contact you in writing or at a court hearing to ask questions. This is less likely to happen if you have both taken legal advice and come to an agreement together.
Once the judge is happy with the Consent Order, it is ‘sealed’ and becomes legally binding.
How to change a Consent Order
It is important to make sure you have considered everything in your agreement and have negotiated any changes before signing it. If you are in any doubt about anything in the agreement, it is important to seek independent legal advice. Once a Consent Order becomes legally binding, it is very hard to make any changes to it, unless it is possible for you negotiate new changes with your ex.
There are exceptions and you may be able to challenge a Consent Order if:
- Your ex did not fully disclose all financial assets
- The valuation of any asset was miscalculated, either by mistake or fraudulently
- You signed the order under emotional distress or you lacked mental capacity e.g. suffering from a mental illness
- Something happened soon after the Consent Order is sealed which would change the terms of your agreement – e.g. you have an accident that makes you unable to work or your ex comes into a large sum of money.
If you think you have grounds for challenging a Consent Order, it is important to seek advice from a solicitor straight away, who will be able guide you through the next steps.
Get help challenging a Consent Order
At Crisp & Co, we believe in keeping divorce simple, straightforward and most importantly, amicable. Securing a financial agreement with your partner can prove arduous and arguments may ensue, which is why we believe in resolution. Our expert divorce lawyers can help find the right solution for you in the quickest and most efficient way possible, reducing the emotional burden.
Give us a call today on 020 8017 8962 to see how we can help.