Applied for your conditional order? Here’s what to do next
If you or your ex have applied to end your ‘legal marriage’ with a no-fault divorce on the government website, you’ll be emailed to say you can apply for your conditional order 20 weeks after the application was made and the divorce issued (the ‘reflection’ period).
Once you’ve applied for the conditional order and the court has granted it, you can ask a judge to end your ‘financial marriage’ by approving arrangements you have made about splitting money and property.
This is known as having a financial order, also called a consent order, if you both agree to the document.
A consent or financial order is a document that details how you’re going to split your money, property, and any pensions. It is legally binding which means it will protect you both if anyone tries to change their mind in the future. It often has a ‘clean break clause’ in it which protects the money or assets that you may earn or receive in the future (for example, pensions, inheritance, lottery wins or future earnings) from being claimed by your ex.
You may be surprised to learn that just getting divorced doesn’t end your financial relationship with your ex, even if you have kept your finances separate during the marriage or have no shared assets. So, if you get divorced and don’t get a consent order your ex can still make financial claims against you in the future (even after many years).
So, if you are at the conditional order stage what should you do next?
1. Press PAUSE on your divorce
Firstly, it’s usually best not to apply for your final order in the divorce until you have sorted your finances. You will be emailed to say you can apply for the final order six weeks and one day after the granting of the conditional order. But it is better to sort the finances out first and stay married to avoid tax, inheritance, or pension complications.
2. Understand what documents the court will need from you
The government website is not very clear at present about the process for sorting out financial arrangements and getting a consent order. It looks like you just need to fill in a form called the D81, Statement of Information. But this is not correct. There are additional forms and documents you need to complete to end your financial marriage.
First, you will need to complete a Statement of Information or D81 – this is a snapshot of your current financial situation. You must do this as your finances are now, not when you separated if that was earlier.
You will need to give the court a summary of the value of:
- Your assets (e.g. properties, vehicles, business assets and bank accounts)
- Your debts (loans, credit cards etc),
- Your pension (even if you have agreed to leave each other’s pensions you will need to provide a CETV – Cash Equivalent Transfer Value for each pension you hold)
- Your income from all sources (including any maintenance, benefits, or rental income you receive).
The other document you will need to submit is the consent order itself. This is not normally a document you can complete yourself instead it should be properly drafted by a trained person as it will need to include certain legal clauses.
3. Pick a cost-effective and conflict-free process to work out your arrangements
If you are on good enough terms with your ex to talk about things, even if you can’t agree, at first, then you don’t need to go to court to sort out a consent order.
The court process is to be avoided if possible as it is very long and drawn out and very expensive. It’s very easy to get drawn into thinking you need to go to court especially if you think your ex isn’t being honest about the money or property they have. But it's usually best to try and resolve issues through discussion first, remembering that solicitor and barrister representation can very quickly run into tens of thousands of pounds, and this might be a lot more than the money you are disagreeing about.
Mo & Sunita – (names changed to protect identities)
They have a house together and Mo has a pension, there are no other assets. They have been married 32 years. Their children are now grown up. Sunita is not working and Mo is a doctor. Sunita wants a financial agreement. Mo didn’t understand he had to disclose his pension. Sunita went to solicitors instead of trying to resolve the issue with Mo directly and paid £11,000. Conflict has escalated and she has an estimate of £20,000 for a final court hearing. They have reached out now saying enough is enough.
It's natural not to agree on all aspects of your separation when emotions are raw, and you are feeling betrayed. It can be tempting to ask a solicitor to deal with things on your behalf, but outsourcing communication (especially when you have children) can be a costly short-term solution. Better to take some time and find a process that manages conflict and helps you build back a working relationship with your ex. You don’t need two expensive solicitors emailing each other (and charging you for the privilege) to work out a financial agreement or children’s arrangements.
Mel and Matthew – (names changed to protect identities)
They have been married for 12 years and have three Children together. Mel left Matthew and now lives with her new partner. Their house is in Matthew’s name, and he also has a pension. They both have savings. Mel wants to talk about child maintenance and co-parenting. She visited a solicitor and they have quoted her £50,000 to get these issues resolved.
amicable will complete both the D81 and draft the consent order for you. We’ll also fill out Form A, an administrative document that allows you to apply for the consent order. You don’t need to have agreed how you want to split things. We can help you whether you have an agreement or need some help to come to one. The only thing you need to be is on good enough terms to discuss how to divide your money and property.
Our expert Divorce Specialists can coach you to an agreement and manage conflict to help you stay on good terms. This is unique to amicable because our teams are trained to manage the emotional journey as well as the legal journey.
Rushing off to court or involving solicitors can be fraught with emotional turmoil, expensive and add months or years to the process. Think ‘amicable’ before you make a court application or sign up with solicitor.
If you have you've received the conditional order and would like help understanding the next steps, you can book a free 15-minute advice call with one of our amicable experts.
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