Consent orders are legally ratified agreements made between a divorcing couple setting out how their money, property and other assets will be divided once their marriage officially ends. They commonly also include such important family financial matters as spousal maintenance and child support. They are so-called because the couple has ‘consented’ to the division by reaching the agreement – and a family court Judge has then turned this agreement into a binding legal order. This means that if either party fails to meet their responsibilities under the order, such as paying maintenance on time, the courts can intervene. You can apply for a consent order at the penultimate decree nisi stage of your divorce proceedings, and it will then become legally binding at the final decree absolute stage. Only if the couple cannot reach such an agreement between themselves will the case go on to an actual hearing in court. If you and your ex are on relatively good terms following your split, and are able to freely reach an agreement without legal help, it is not necessary to apply for a court order. But if that agreement later breaks down, you will not be able to ask the courts to enforce it.
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You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree how to split your money and property. If you and your spouse are in total agreement as to the financial arrangements you will still need the court to make the agreement official and binding by making what is called a consent order.
Consent Order generally describes what is to happen to each of the main assets (property, savings, shares, businesses and pensions). It sometimes also covers child and spousal maintenance (where applicable). Pension sharing agreements are a common clause in a Consent Order (where applicable).
Couples can use a clean break only if you both wish to prevent any claims in the future and both of you do not have any assets and simply want to dismiss any future financial claims, or you have already divided your assets between you on an amicable basis. You may wish to consider a clean break order even if you do not have any assets at the present time.
If you both are still dividing marital assets, such as a house, pension or savings as part of the divorce process then you can use a standard or detailed consent order. By filing the order at court you set out the agreement that you have reached formally. It can also prevent any claims in the future.
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