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In simple terms, yes, Consent Orders are final. In financial matters, the Court has an obligation which is provided for in the legislation, to end the financial relationship between the parties, and so a good solicitor will draft Consent Orders that will both cover all assets and all liabilities of either and both parties but do so in a way that means that there are no financial ties between the parties once all the Orders have been implemented.
Similarly, with parenting Consent Orders, the idea is that all of the issues that are important to the parties and to the children of the relationship are covered in the Consent Orders, so there is no reason that the matter would need to be revisited or the Consent Orders not made final.
The Court’s job is to avoid, wherever possible, either party feeling the need to bring the matter back before the Court, whether the Orders relate to parenting matters or to a property settlement. It is, therefore, important when you are reviewing and considering signing off on Consent Orders that you bear in mind that they are designed to finalise everything between yourself and your former partner. You should ensure that everything that is of concern to you is covered and that all of your liabilities and assets have been referenced in the documentation.
Are consent orders legally binding?
When your Consent Order is made, it has the same effect as a court Order made by a judge after a contested court hearing. This means that if one party doesn’t comply with a court order, you can make an application to the Court to have the Order enforced. This is the case whether the Consent Order relates to your property settlement or is a parenting Order. So, for example, if you have a parenting Consent Order that has been made by consent that says the children are to be returned to you at a certain time on a certain day, and that doesn’t happen, you can apply to the Court to have the Consent Order enforced. If your former partner is supposed to transfer a lump sum of money to you by a certain day and doesn’t, you can apply to the Court to have that Order enforced.
Having said that, however, the fact of having court Orders that are legally binding in place does, typically, result in both parties complying with them, as neither party usually wants to be taken to Court to have an Order enforced against them. Also, Consent Orders arise from an agreement being reached between the parties, and so because they’ve actually agreed to the Orders being put into place, they’re usually quite happy to comply with them.
But in essence, the Order has the same effect and is just as legally binding, whether made by consent or made pursuant to a contested court hearing. The only difference is that you didn’t have to attend Court or go through a contested hearing to get a Consent Order, as the Court makes the Orders in Chambers, not in open Court.