There are many ways an agreement can be reached in respect of how the family finances are dealt with on divorce or dissolution of A Civil Partnership. An agreement can be reached between you and your former partner through direct discussions, negotiations via solicitors, or any other form of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, or within the Court process. It is important to note that no matter how the agreement is reached, or how minimal your assets, it is advisable that the agreement reached is drafted into a legally binding document, known as a Financial Consent Order.
A Financial Consent Order sets out, in detail, the agreement reached between you and your former and is a legally binding document. The document is signed by the two of you, including legal representatives (if you have one appointed) and must be approved and sealed by a Judge.
What are the risks of reaching an agreement without advice?
The starting point for dividing the assets is an equal division. In some situations, it may be that a departure from equality is justified, however, this of course depends on your individual circumstances. If there is a departure from equality, it is prudent to provide the Court with an explanation as to why there is a departure from equality to minimise the risk of the Financial Consent Order being rejected by a Judge, due to the agreement being heavily weighted in one person’s favour. It is also worthwhile obtaining legal advice about the division of your finances should you be unsure of how achieve a fair and reasonable outcome that will be approved by a Judge.
In some situations, even if an explanation is provided to the Judge, when there is a departure from equality, the Judge may still request further clarification as to how the agreement reached is fair and reasonable in line with the law. However, in cases where the Judge is not convinced, it may be that you and your former partner will need to return to the kitchen table to negotiate a fairer agreement, which may cause matters to unravel.
You should also be aware that if you do enter into negotiations with your former partner, you may possibly be held to that agreement, so be cautious with what you agree to.
How long does it take for a Financial Consent Order to be approved by the Court?
Now that the Court process has moved online, it can now take as little as four weeks for a Financial Consent Order to be approved and sealed by a Judge. If the assets are more complex, it may take more time and if the Judge has questions about the agreement reached, this can delay matters further.
If you have reached, or are close to reaching an agreement with your former partner and require some advice in respect of having a Financial Consent Order prepared, feel free to make contact with us.