Separation Agreement v Consent Order
What is Separation Agreement?
A Separation Agreement is usually a financial agreement reached between the parties in contemplation of a divorce. This can include a variety of things such as child arrangements, how the properties and finances should be dealt with. This document can be drafted by professionals or simply between the parties themselves and is signed by the parties. This document does not need to be filed with the court.
What is a Consent Order?
A Consent Order is a financial agreement reached between parties, usually through their solicitor’s during the course of divorce and financial proceedings. The agreement is recorded in a court compliant format and once both parties have signed this document, it is filed with the court for its approval. If the court deem the financial settlement as fair and reasonable and are satisfied the parties understand what they have agreed, the consent order will be sealed and binding on all parties. A Consent Order is often a financial clean break for the parties thus severing all financial ties to one another. There cannot be a clean break for any financial obligations towards the children of the marriage.
How do you vary or enforce the agreement?
If you have entered into a Separation Agreement, provided it satisfies certain criteria, it could be deemed a legal document which can be challenged in court. However, the weight given to a Separation Agreement will not be the same as that of a Consent Order. A Separation Agreement can be varied if you change your agreement and just needs to be re-signed and dated by the parties. If the finances of the parties changes substantially after the Separation Agreement (i.e one party receives significant inheritance or wins the lottery etc) then this may make the agreement unenforceable as it may no longer be fair and reasonable.
A Consent Order sealed by the court is a legally binding document for which there are consequences if the terms are breached. Lump sum orders (an order for one person to pay a lump sum of money to the other person) not made by instalments and property adjustment orders (usually an order relating to property the married couple own) cannot be varied however anything outside of this may be varied or discharged if an application is made to the court to do so. It is very rare for the court to set aside a consent order unless there are serious and compelling reasons to do so (i.e fraud, material non-disclosure of finances etc).
How can HMG Law Help You?
At HMG Law LLP we have experienced Family Lawyers who can help you with every aspect of your marital finances. For new clients, we offer an initial fixed fee consultation with one of our family solicitors for a fee of £100 plus VAT.
Please telephone Christina Cree, Alexandra Smith or Irrum Shah at Bicester 01869 252244 or at Oxford on 01865 244661.