Are you facing the tough decision of choosing between a separation agreement and a consent order as your relationship comes to an end?
The process of untangling shared assets and property can be daunting, but understanding the options can make it more manageable.
Let’s take a closer look at the two choices and consider which might be the best fit for your situation.
Addressing financial matters
Addressing financial matters is crucial for securing a stable future and minimising potential conflicts.
It’s important to note that without a formal agreement, your financial obligations to each other could persist indefinitely, and it is therefore important you consider the options available to you with regards to the finances.
If you’re not quite ready for a divorce, a separation agreement allows you to remain legally married while setting out the agreement reached regarding the finances.
When divorce proceedings are then commenced in the future, the norm is for the terms of the separation agreement to be incorporated into a legally binding Consent Order.
It’s worth noting that a separation agreement isn’t legally binding, and the court might not necessarily uphold its terms during a divorce if the court does not consider it fair and just to do so.
However, if certain conditions are met, such as both parties providing full financial disclosure and obtaining independent legal advice, the weight attached to a separation agreement by the court will be considerable, and the court is likely to uphold the terms of the same if it is just to do so.
It is important to ensure any separation agreement is drafted by an experienced lawyer to ensure that the required conditions are met, to enable the maximum weight to be attached to the separation agreement by the court.
On the other hand, a consent order finalises the division of assets and signifies the end of financial responsibilities to each other after the divorce.
This process involves both parties providing full financial disclosure, followed by negotiations, and potential alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or arbitration.
Once the terms are agreed upon, a solicitor can draft the consent order for approval by the court and once approved by the court, the consent order is a legally binding order, the terms of with both parties must adhere to.
Choosing the right option
While a separation agreement is a useful document which both parties can sign before commencing divorce proceeding, it does not necessarily hold the same weight as a consent order and the terms can be departed from if the court considers it appropriate to do so.
It is important you obtain legal advice at the outset of matters, to discuss the options available to you in light of your personal circumstances, and to ensure that any document drafted is done so correctly by an experienced lawyer, to offer you the best protection.
If you’re in need of expert advice and guidance through this challenging process, get in touch with our experienced Family Law Team on 01772 799 600.
Article by Lauren Townson