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Can a consent order be changed?

By , on Thursday February 22, 2024 at 10:17 am

If you have divorced, or intend to divorce, you may already be aware of the importance of a consent order. Without an order in place, any financial arrangements you make will not be considered legally binding.

While consent orders are vital, sometimes circumstances can quickly change. This means that any agreements included in an original order may not be as suitable as they once were.

This raises the question as to whether it is possible to change the terms of a consent order once it has been issued.

If you intend to create a consent order, or already have one in place, accessing specialist legal advice from an experienced family law solicitor is essential.

Consent orders and financial settlements are specialist areas for our family law team, meaning we are able to provide expert guidance on your options and what steps you can take to ensure that you have an arrangement in place that is tailored to your circumstances.

Can a consent order be reopened?

Generally, it is not possible to ‘reopen’ a consent order once it has been approved and sealed by a judge. From this point onwards, the consent order is legally binding and it will only be possible to vary terms of the consent order in very limited circumstances.

For example, it may be possible to challenge or set aside a consent order if:

  • One or both parties failed to provide full and accurate financial disclosure
  • There is evidence of fraud or mistake
  • There is evidence of incapacity or duress
  • There has been an exceptional change in circumstances which invalidates the basis of the order

Can a judge change a consent order?

Judges have the power to reject an application for a consent order if they do not believe that it is fair or appropriate. They can also ask questions about the agreement or your circumstances. However, they will not be able to make any variations to the proposed terms during this application process.

It is important to note that, if a judge rejects a consent order, this is not the end of the process. If a judge does not give approval, it will be necessary to revise the terms and submit an amended order for review.

It is likely to be beneficial to all parties if an order is approved with minimal delays. If both you and your ex-partner have received legal advice on the contents of a consent order, it is much less likely that an application will be rejected.

How do you vary a consent order?

In some cases, a consent order can be varied if circumstances change or difficulties arise. This will depend on the type of provision made in the consent order. For example, changes can be made to spousal maintenance orders in terms of amount, duration or whether they should end or be paid off in a lump sum (a clean break).

If there are difficulties executing or implementing the terms of an order, either party can apply to the court to make changes or additional arrangements so that the basis of the order can still be put into effect.

There are different processes to follow depending on whether you wish to vary a financial order or how to put a consent order into effect and you may have to make full financial disclosure. In any event, if you wish to vary a consent order, you should first discuss the issues with the other party with a view to negotiating an agreed variation, preferably in a consent order.

Our family law solicitors nationwide are here for you

Applying for a consent order after reaching an agreement on your finances is a major step, providing security, peace of mind and giving you a clean break from your ex. However, as there may be a situation where the order is no longer suitable, it is vital that you understand your options and whether you will be in a position to apply for a new order to be put in place.

Expert legal advice from our team can help you clarify your options and whether the arrangements you have made can be revised in any way.

At Woolley & Co Solicitors, our team are here to provide tailored consent order legal advice and to and make the process as simple and stress-free as possible.

To take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with our expert family law solicitors, call 0800 321 3832, or complete our quick online form.

Kate Brooks
Family law solicitor

Blog Author - Kate Brooks

Kate BrooksKate Brooks

Kate is a family solicitor with Woolley & Co, based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, covering all aspects of divorce and separation.


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