0800 652 3371

Financial Consent Order Solicitors in Shrewsbury, Telford, Hereford, Ludlow

 

Separation is often a difficult, emotional time, even without the involvement of the courts. We work with our clients to ensure, in the majority of cases, a court hearing is not required. By working together with you, and understanding your individual circumstances, we achieve amicable settlements whenever possible.

We are one of the top law firms across our regions, offering our clients the highest levels of legal expertise alongside a superb customer service experience. Our warm and friendly approach sets us apart from our competitors, combining local knowledge with national capability. We have been recognised in The Legal 500 directory as having “an excellent reputation for advising a range of clients, from those with modest means to more high-net-worth Individuals” and as being “a match for any of the Birmingham city firms”. Sue Hodgson, who heads our Family Law team, is described as “quite simply outstanding”.

Our reputation is built on a commitment to providing a bespoke, individualised service to all our clients. Family law matters are complex and sensitive; we will work hard to understand your circumstances and ensure you have the smoothest experience possible.

What is a financial order?

A financial order is a court order setting out the financial settlement on separation. In most cases, separating partners come to an amicable agreement in relation to their financial settlement outside court, and then make an application to the court for a consent order, which turns the agreement into a legally binding commitment.

If it isn’t possible to come to an agreement with your former partner, we can support you through a range of options such as the alternative dispute resolution approach. We are noted for our commitment to collaborative law, and our team are experts in making these negotiations as stress-free as possible. 

As a final resort, if it is not possible to reach an agreement with your partner, a request can be made to the court to determine the financial settlement between you and your partner on separation.

There are various types of financial orders which the court can make in specific circumstances, such as a pension sharing order, a freezing order, a property adjustment order and a maintenance order. Our expert divorce solicitors will discuss any relevant financial orders with you based on your individual circumstances. 

What is included in a consent order?  

We will draft your consent order based on the agreement we help you to negotiate with your former partner. A consent order includes three main sections:

  • Recitals – the agreements reached between you and your former partner
  • Undertakings – commitments made to the court not to break specific promises
  • Orders – the detailed settlements relating to the financial assets and property which have been agreed

How long will the process take?

If the terms of the consent order are straightforward, the court will normally process the application within four to six weeks, depending on the court and its workload. If the agreement is recognised as fair and reasonable, it can be approved without the court needing to speak to either party.

At this stage, if the judge believes the agreement is unfair, or that there are issues which need to be addressed, further information might be requested. If the court still cannot approve the agreement, a hearing may be required.

What makes a consent order fair?

We have a huge amount of experience drafting consent orders and will negotiate the terms on your behalf. The court will be interested in the length of your relationship, the assets in question, the health and earning capacity of each partner and the needs of any children involved. The reasonable expectations of each party as to their ongoing standard of living will also be considered.

We understand the expectations of the court in relation to the fairness of financial settlements and will advise you accordingly. Our goal is to achieve the best settlement for you with the minimum stress; where possible, we will look to avoid a court hearing and facilitate an amicable agreement.

What is the difference between a consent order and a clean break?

A “clean break” means that neither partner can make any further claims against each other in future. A consent order means a financial order with settlement terms that have been agreed, rather than imposed by a judge following court proceedings. A clean break order can form part of a consent order, but it is not the same thing. It is important to understand the difference: a consent order will not necessarily end the financial relationship you have with your partner and will not ensure that further claims cannot be made, unless it includes a clean break order. Without a clean break order, it is possible for your former partner to apply for the terms of your consent order to be altered.

Well known cases such as that of Dale Vince, whose former partner successfully claimed against him following a great increase in wealth 20 years after their divorce, highlight the value of a clean break order.

Is a clean break order always appropriate?

A clean break is most appropriate where the separating partners have no assets to split and have no need for an on-going financial relationship. Often though, the situation is more complicated than that. A clean break is not possible if maintenance is to be paid from one partner to the other to help balance out incomes or to support any children of the relationship.

A clean break is also not appropriate when the financial circumstances of one or both partners is uncertain. If there are plans to develop or sell off a family business or significant asset, or to develop a property, it might be necessary to leave the settlement open; if your employment situation is uncertain, it might also be in your interests to avoid a clean break order.

It is possible to agree a deferred clean break to come into effect at a specified (or unspecified) time in the future. A binding order can be made for a clean break to occur once certain conditions have been satisfied (the sale of a business or property, for example), or an agreement could be reached at some unknown future point when you and your former partner are ready to end your on-going financial relationship.

Consent Order Disputes

When can a financial order be challenged?

Financial orders are intended to be binding and final, so there needs to be special circumstances for a judge to allow changes to be made. The impact of the appeal is also relevant – the court will consider the proportionality of the appeal and whether it will make a material difference to your circumstances compared to the costs of the appeal.

Examples of circumstances in which an order could be challenged are:

  • Non-disclosure of relevant facts – this can include information about financial or personal circumstances. For example, not disclosing a job offer which includes a significant increase in salary, or an intention to marry again, could both materially affect the agreement.
  • Fraud and misrepresentation – this usually involves the intentional, or unintentional, undervaluation of assets which has a significant impact on the agreement.
  • Undue influence – this is relevant if one partner can show that they were forced or pressurised into making the initial agreement.
  • Significant subsequent events – it is possible to challenge an order if a subsequent event occurs which invalidates the agreement. The following requirements must be met to make use of this ground:
    • The events took place since the order was made;
    • The events invalidate the basis on which the agreement was made;
    • The events are so significant that it is very likely the appeal will succeed;
    • The events took place within a year of the order being made;
    • The appeal against the order was made promptly; and
    • The appeal does not negatively impact an innocent third party with an interest in any asset or assets involved in the appeal.

How is an order enforced?

A financial order is a legally binding document, so if one party to the agreement fails to abide by the terms of the order, the other party can take action to enforce it. If it is found that a breach has occurred, the court will require the party responsible to satisfy the terms of the order, as well as paying the costs of the proceedings.

When considering whether a breach has occurred, the court will take all the circumstances into account. For example, sometimes a party can fail to satisfy their obligations under the order due to unforeseen circumstances which were beyond their control, such as unexpectedly losing their job. In such situations, the court may make an order allowing that party to stop payments until they find a new job.

If there is no valid reason for the failure to comply with the terms of the order, the court can impose penalties and enforce payment of outstanding monies.

What enforcement options are available?

  • Lump sum payments – the court can grant you a charge over property owned by your former partner, allowing you to insist on the sale of that property if you do not receive the money owed. Similarly, the court can grant a third-party debt order over money owed to your former partner by a third party, meaning that money is paid directly to you. It is also possible to request that the court orders your former partner’s bank to release money held in a bank account to you in satisfaction of the amount owed.
  • Sale of the family home – it is common for the sale of the family home to be part of a financial order; it is also common for the person living in the property to delay or refuse to cooperate with the sale. In these circumstances, the court can order that you manage the sale alone or that your partner leaves the property, or the court may agree to sign the sale papers on behalf of your former partner.
  • Maintenance payments – the court may grant an attachment of earnings order if your former partner is in paid employment and is failing to pay agreed maintenance. If your former partner is self-employed, other options are available, including bankruptcy proceedings. It is important to act promptly if your former partner fails to make maintenance payments, as usually the court will only order the payment of arrears under 12 months old.

What will enforcement proceedings cost?

The court will usually add the costs of enforcement proceedings to the money you are owed, so that your former partner will reimburse you for those costs.

Contact The Financial Order Solicitors At Lanyon Bowdler

Our divorce lawyers are approachable and professional, and will always adopt a balanced and practical approach to negotiations, minimising conflict and working to an acceptable outcome for you. Our aim is to achieve amicable resolutions swiftly, but if litigation is necessary we have the experience and know-how to deal with the courts effectively.

Please give us a call for a friendly, confidential, chat about how we can help support you when you or your family need legal advice and representation. Please contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form on the righthand side of this page. 

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for family law legal advice, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on hand no matter what the situation. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes. Our Family Law Solicitors team has great experience in all areas of family law and family mediation. 

We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry and Telford, so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England and Wales.

Testimonials

I was impressed with the efficiency and welcome of staff. Excellent office layout and service.  

- Mrs S James & Mr W Parkinson, Telford

A warm welcome from the receptionist. Extremely impressed by all that have helped us, peace of mind for our future.

- Mr M Court & Mrs A May, Shrewsbury

Always very efficient in dealing with the workload and advice given in divorce. Would highly recommend the service I received. 

- Mrs Suzanne Purvin

Knowledge and information given was accurate and realistic.

- Mrs Eleanor Margaret Howells, Hereford

Very efficient, pleasant and fully explained. I am well satisfied.

- Mr Stephen Turner, Oswestry

Friendly atmosphere and very professional attitude. 

- Mr Sidney Jolliffe, Oswestry

Advice was sensible and informative. It allowed me to make the decisions with understanding potential concequences. 

- Mr Paul Simon Burgoyne, Hereford

They listened to my worries and my concerns, which put me at ease and made me feel that I completely had someone in my corner fighting for myself and children's best interests. 

- Miss Deborah Lisa Bradley, Shrewsbury & Oswestry

Case Studies

Nothing Left to Partner

Claire acted for a claimant whose partner died, leaving his entire estate to ...

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