Can you get a consent order by doing it yourself for £53?

amicable’s guide to navigating gov.uk as you divorce

Originally published on 20th January 2023 at 4:35 PM

Reading time: 2 mins

Since the introduction of ‘no-fault divorce’ more people than ever are starting their divorce on the government website. It’s simple to kick off a divorce yourself but when it comes to sorting out your money and property things can quickly become baffling, especially as the instructions and the language on gov.uk are unclear, complicated and confusing.

In this blog, we’ll guide you through the government website when it comes to applying for a consent order (the legally binding document the court signs off, that sets out your agreement about how you're splitting your money and property).

We’ll detail what you need to do and how you can get help on drafting the legal paperwork and negotiating how to split your money and property fairly.

To try and make it easy to follow, we have set out this blog with the same headings you will see on gov.uk.

Sorting out money and property when you divorce

What many people don’t realise is that just getting a divorce does not end your financial marriage - it only ends your legal marriage. Often people get a divorce and then sell their home, divide the proceeds of the sale, split their savings and move on with their lives. This leaves you both open to future claims being brought against you by your ex.

For example, if they spend all their money and then cannot afford to house themselves or live, they can file an application in court for more money from you. This can be especially risky if you have inherited money, bought property or built up a decent pension.

To stop this happening and to ensure the agreements you have reached are honoured, you can ask the court to make a financial order or consent order that includes a clean break. How you go about this depends on whether you’re ‘agreed’ on how to split things or not. The government website tries to explain the different approaches. We’ve summarised them below to give greater clarity.

You agree

If you and your ex have reached an agreement amicably yourselves, often referred to as a kitchen table agreement, you can ask the court for this to be made legally binding through a consent order. A consent order is a legally drafted document that tells the court how you have agreed to split your money and property. It does not need to be drafted by a solicitor, but it should be drafted by a legal expert as it must contain certain clauses that protect you and your ex both now and in the future.

How to ask the court for approval

The government website states…

You will need to

  • Complete a financial disclosure (tell each other what you have)
  • Draft a consent order (this will need to be done by a legal professional such as amicable)
  • Sign the draft consent order
  • Send the consent order to court with accompanying documents

In addition to a legally drafted consent order you will need to have shown a list of all your money and property and the value of everything, called a ‘disclosure’ to your ex. The court will want to see a summary of this disclosure on a form called a D81, Statement of Information. Your ex will have to do the same so the court can see what each of you has currently, immediately before the divorce. If you separated years before, you will still need to show the court what you have now, not what you had when you separated.

Point of confusion(!)

The wording on the government website is leading lots of people to fill out a D81 (statement of information) and send it to the court with the £53 fee.

You cannot just fill in a ‘statement of information form’ (D81), and a ‘notice of an application for a financial order’ (Form A) and pay the £53 court fee. You must also have a draft consent order (as explained above you will need to have this prepared by a legal professional such as amicable) and accompanying documents. A judge will then review your information, and if satisfied that the draft consent order is fair, will approve (seal/stamp), making it legally binding.

If you’ve reached an agreement, there’s no need to go to mediation. This is confusing for people because it’s mentioned in the ‘notice of an application for a financial order’ (Form A) but when you have agreed things yourselves, the form A is for ‘dismissal purposes’, which means that you no longer need the court to decide any financial arrangements for you (you’ve agreed on it yourselves).

If you’re still confused, book a free 15-minute call with one of our specialists.

You need help agreeing

It’s normal to not be able to reach an agreement straight away, especially if you’ve recently separated and emotions are raw. Don’t be worried, there are lots of professionals who are able to help you work together to come to an agreement, for example:

  • amicable negotiation services
  • Mediation

What’s the difference between amicable negotiation and mediation?

Our services which include negotiation sessions are similar to meditation in that we work with you together as a couple, however, we also prepare the legal forms necessary, such as consent orders, the D81 Statement of Information and the Form A, and we have a 95% success rate in helping couples reach an agreement over their financial and children arrangements, compared with mediation which sits at around 65%.

You can’t agree

It’s really important to explore all your options before asking the court to ‘make a financial order’ and for a judge to decide on any unresolved issues for you. Hearings can be very expensive involving lots of different professionals. You won’t have control over the cost or the outcome and may not know how much has been spent until afterwards.

  • Solicitors - solicitors negotiate on your behalf to try and reach an agreement for you
  • Going to court - you ask a judge to decide any unresolved financial issues for you (this involves solicitors and barristers)
  • Arbitration
    • You appoint an arbitrator to decide any unresolved financial issues for you

Making child arrangements

You agree

You don’t need to take any legal steps if you agree to arrangements for your children, such as where they will live and how and when they will see you both.

If you want to document this, you can include it in a parenting plan or we have a parenting contract. This is not legally binding, but a way to make sure you’ve discussed everything and hold each other to account for what you’ve agreed. There are also co-parenting apps which can help you to stay on track with your parenting apart arrangements.

If you agree to your children arrangements, you do not need to get these documented in a consent order. The court has a no-order principle, so for many, this is an unnecessary step.

You need help agreeing

It’s normal to not be able to reach an agreement straight away, especially if you’ve recently separated and emotions are raw. Don’t be worried, there are lots of professionals who are able to help you work together to come to an agreement, for example:

  • amicable negotiation services
  • Mediation

You can’t agree

amicable co-parenting sessions, or mediation can help you reach an agreement with your ex about your children. You may find it useful to get some more information about what helps and protects children when parent’s divorce. There’s lots of useful information on The Divorce Podcast (search co-parenting) or you can sign up to an online course.

If there are any red flags such as abuse or issues with one parent stopping the other from spending time with the children, then you can seek specialist help from a solicitor who will be able to help you make the appropriate court applications.

If you’ve been domestically abused within the last 12 months you may be entitled to legal aid. You can find more help and resources here.

You can also reach out to these places:

  • Gov.uk – general guidance for all victims of DA
  • Rights of Women - a national charity supporting female victims of DA
  • Mankind Initiative
    • a national charity offering guidance for male victims of DA
  • DadsUnlimted
    • A charity that aims to support dads to seek help for their mental health following a family breakdown, and helps them improve their co-parenting relationships

If you and your partner are ready to get your finances sorted, book a 15-minute joint consultation with a specialist below.

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Kate Daly
Kate Daly
Kate Daly is a co-founder of amicable and host of The Divorce Podcast. Kate is a divorce expert and helps couples and separated parents navigate divorce and separation amicably. She's passionate about changing the way the world divorces and campaigns for fairer divorce laws and access to justice.

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