Amicable exists to help separating couples achieve better outcomes for their families. Too many families emerge from divorce damaged and scarred. We can’t prevent divorce, but we think it is a sad event not a bad event, with the focus being on people being able to move on successfully with their lives.
A consent order is a legally binding document that sets out the financial arrangements you and your ex have come to. It details how you’re going to split any assets, debts, pension, and income you have once you’re divorced. It is legally binding which means it will protect you both if anyone tries to change their minds in future. It often has what is called 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.
Most people are surprised to learn that a divorce doesn’t end the financial relationship with your ex. 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 have passed).
Here’s how consent orders work:
What information is needed to complete a consent order?
There are two parts to a consent order – First you will need to complete a Statement of Information or D81 – this is a snapshot of your current financial position. 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 draft yourself instead it should be properly drafted by a trained person as it will need to include certain legal clauses. You and your ex will have to decide how you will split your finances in a fair way. You can get advice on how to do this in this blog or by speaking to an amicable Divorce Coach.
The consent order sets out what you would like to happen to the assets you’ve listed in the D81. It may include what will happen to property, assets, debts, and pensions. Things like child and spousal maintenance and lump sums that’ll be transferred between you will also need to be recorded. It will also set out a timetable for when payments will be made, or assets transferred.
It’s always a good idea to include the rationale for how you’ve decided to split things so that the judge understands what you are seeking to achieve and can check that is fair and achievable from what is set out in the order.
You will also need for fill out a Form A (an administrative document that allows you to apply for the consent order) and if you are sharing a pension, then you will also need to complete a pension sharing annex or P1 form.
Who decides whether our consent order is fair?
The law does not have a defined formula for dividing assets. To make fair agreements between you, you must think about what the courts in England & Wales take into consideration: income, earning capacity and property needs as well as financial needs, obligations, and responsibilities. The starting pointing is a 50/50 split. But if one of you has a greater need, for example, because you are housing the children or earn a lot less, then the split may differ. You can make any agreement you like between yourselves (an informal arrangement) but if you want the court to seal a consent order and make it legally binding then a judge will have the final say on whether your agreement is fair in the eyes of the law. Our divorce coaches are specially trained to help you make a fair agreement
How long does it take?
This really depends on how organised you both are in gathering your financial information e.g. your pension CETV (which can take up t 12 weeks) and negotiating a settlement. Let’s say you’re completely agreed upon how you want to split things and have all the right information, you should allow six months at minimum for the consent order to be sealed by a judge.
Can you get a consent order without being divorced?
No. You will need to be a Decree Nisi stage of the divorce process before you can submit a consent order to the courts. It usually takes about 12 weeks to get to Nisi stage, so its worth considering getting started on the divorce and using the time it takes the court to process your petition to collect your financial information and negotiate a settlement.
Do I need a lawyer to do a consent order?
No, but you will need someone who understands the legal process and has experience in drafting orders as there are certain legal clauses that need to be included.
When you physically separate and go to living in a one adult household, it’s helpful to maximise any benefits post-divorce that you might be entitled to and take advantage of any additional help that is out there. It can be daunting when you think about splitting one household into two, but with forward thinking, you can make this transition easier.
First things first, if you already receive tax credits, you need to let the HM Revenue and Customs know as soon as possiblethat you are now single. You can do this online or by post, full details of how to do this are on the government’s website.
Most people don’t know that If you live alone when you separate (i.e. you’re the only adult), you can apply for a single person discount which is 25% off your Council Tax bill. Every little saving helps so do the admin and get the discounts you’re entitled to. To apply for this discount, go to the government website.
If you are responsible for any children under the age of 16 or any children under 20 who are still in full-time education (A-levels, higher education, undertaking an ‘approved’ training course or an equivalent of the previous) then you can claim child benefit.
Only one parent can receive the child benefit so if your ex was the person receiving these benefits, your ex will need to contact the Child Benefit Office and let them know they no longer need this benefit. You’ll then have to wait until this change is processed to set yourself up as the new claimant.
You can really supplement your income with benefits. The main ones are income support, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit. Universal credit is replacing these benefits, and this is currently being rolled out over the UK.
What benefits you will get will depend on where you live. Whilst this transition of benefits is ongoing the best thing to do is to go to your local CAB or job center and they will be able to let you know which application to make. As a starting point and to see how much you may be entitled to, the charity Gingerbread has a useful summary of benefits.
It is worth making inquiries at your child’s school to see if they offer any extra help. You may get help with school dinners, free after-school clubs and help with school trips. This can all add up so can be very helpful when you are managing your finances.
Hopefully, this blog will save you and your family some money and help to set you up in your new life. As always, if you’d like support and advice on divorce and separation, please get in touch.
Telling friends and family you’re getting divorced for most people, is a frightening prospect. Being worried about people’s reactions is completely normal and totally understandable. Being prepared for tricky questions and negative reactions can make it much easier.
People breaking up commonly feel a sense of shame, as if they have ‘failed’. It is one of the most difficult experiences we can go through, a type of bereavement, and what you need most, is kindness and support.
When it comes to breaking the news, the most important people, because they are the most affected, are the children. It is vital that they hear it from you, and ideally before anyone else. Read our blog on telling the kids if you’d like some support. on this .
The next stage is family, then friends. If you and your ex can decide together who will tell which friends and family members, and if you can agree on what you’re going to say, it will help enormously.
You need to be aware that people have an unfortunate habit of saying inappropriate things, and often focus on how your breakup effects them or your children. Classic remarks such as ‘Have you really thought about it?’ or ‘But what about the children?’ are not uncommon. The best way to manage this is to be prepared. Be prepared to point out to them that your children are always your first consideration, and that what you need from them is to be supported, not undermined or judged.
Don’t agonise over other people’s reactions
You can never predict how people will behave. You can feel let-down by people you thought would understand, and surprised by those you thoughtless understanding. Remember that you can’t control how other people behave. You have your own emotions to deal with and you don’t need to take on their issues. People who react badly often do so because the thought of divorce frightens them, especially if they themselves are going through a difficult patch in their own relationship.
Be prepared for gossip, and be careful who you confide in
You may also find that some people feel embarrassed and don’t want to know too much, whilst others seem to relish the detail. Be prepared for gossip, and be careful who you confide in. If you feel that someone is pushing for too much information, you can politely tell them that you don’t feel ready to talk at the moment. A good friend is one who’s there to listen, but doesn’t pry.
Hold your head high
Finally, remember that you have nothing to feel embarrassed about. You have made a very difficult and brave decision that others may be too afraid to make. Hold your head high and don’t ever feel you have to apologise.
This week the government launched a nationwide way for couples to apply for a divorce online. The catalyst for this change? 40% of divorce applications are rejected due to errors. If you’re considering an online divorce, here are the pros and cons of this new way to divorce online so that you can decide if this way to divorce is the right one for you and your family.
It’s relatively easy to do online, you’ll need a reason for divorce, address of person you are divorcing, the £550 court fees (if you’re not exempt) and an understanding of the legal documents, which is easily googled if you know what you’re looking for.
You don’t need to be a legal expert. The online system is a lot easier for people to navigate, reducing the need for lawyers and solicitors. This ultimately reduces the cost which can spiral quickly when you’re using a lawyer who charges an hourly rate.
You don’t have to worry about things getting lost in the post, everything is tracked online.
Court stats show that four out of ten people have their divorce application rejected because there is an error on the form. This prolongs the process and adds stress. The most frequent question we get asked is ‘how do I draft the unreasonable behaviour examples’. If you’re not sure on the legal jargon, I recommend you seek advice before filling out the form.
It doesn’t help with the important bits i.e. childcare arrangements and the emotional journey. Although the divorce bit has been made simpler with the online system, it still doesn’t help families come to arrangements about their futures. This is why amicable exists, to support with transitioning from one to two homes and from parents to co-parents.
It doesn’t help with the financial separation. Most couples don’t realise that you and your ex can still make a claim against each other, even if you’re divorced. A separation agreement is not legally binding, and a divorce doesn’t cut all your financial ties. You’ll still need to sort a consent order as this will make your financial split, legal.
I hope the above helps you to work out what option is better for you. If you’d like a 15-minute free advice call, with a divorce expert, please click here.
We all know that a true friend is one that sticks by us when the going gets tough, but when a friend is going through divorce, if you haven’t had that experience yourself, it can be hard to know how to help. Here are my tips on helping your friend through a divorce.
The most important thing any friend can do is to listen
And I do mean listen. As difficult as it may be to keep your thoughts to yourself, it is not helpful to pass judgement on the ex-partner. Being rude about their ex won’t make them feel better, it just stirs up feelings. We all moan on occasions about our family, but it is never okay for anyone else to, even when we are divorcing them.
Discretion is a crucial part of being a supportive friend
We all know that when gossip passes from one person to another, it can get distorted. In a highly emotionally charged state, which divorcing couples generally are, hearing gossip about yourself can be very hurtful, damaging and create a far more acrimonious situation. If your partner is friends with the ex, make a pact with your partner that you will not discuss what you have been told in confidence. If you’re not told anything, then you can’t accidentally repeat it.
Going out as a single person can be daunting
Another key factor for people getting divorced is the change in their social status. Going out as a single person can be frightening and daunting after years in a relationship. But as a step to getting back on your feet emotionally, it is important to get out and not stay at home feeling isolated.
If you think your friend is turning down social events that they would enjoy, offer to go as their ‘plus one’.
If your friend is living on their own with young children they may feel quite isolated
It is well documented that loneliness and social isolation are harmful. If your friend is living on their own with young children, and no adults to talk to, they may feel quite trapped and isolated. Getting a babysitter can be expensive, and your friend may not want to feel they are constantly leaving their children with someone else. If your friend is not getting out, why not offer to cook dinner at their house, instead of them coming to you, or invite them to a family sleepover?
If your friend has a child sharing arrangement, and suddenly finds themselves on their own on alternate weekends, this can be lonely and hard for them to adjust to. Ask them if they are keeping busy on those weekends. Invite them over, or encourage them to take up a hobby that they never quite got around to before. This will also be a nice way for them to meet a new social group, and make new friends.
And finally, don’t judge
You may or may not agree with your friend’s decision to get divorced, or it may be that their behaviour is the reason for it. No one ever knows exactly what goes on between two people, except the people themselves. And sometimes they don’t even understand it themselves!
Divorce has a reputation for being expensive, but fees don’t have to rise through the roof. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep the costs down so that breaking up doesn’t have to break the bank. The answer to the question ‘how much does divorce cost?’ will depend on which method you choose. This blog will run you through each available option and the costs involved, so you can make the right choice for you.
Keeping control is the most cost-effective way to separate. To do your divorce yourself you can download the forms from the government’s website and, once completed, send them to the court closest to you. In England and Wales, the fee for filing for a divorce is £550. Don’t forget to check if you’re eligible for a discount or exempt from paying these fees.
Using an online service
If you don’t need help negotiating with each other and are comfortable with legal wording (and happy to do a lot of the leg-work!) then you can opt to use an online site. In many cases, an online service will charge less than £100 to send you the forms you have to fill out. (If you need to pay court fees, these will be on top.)
amicable’s divorce service
At amicable we offer something different to other online services. We’ll fill in all the right forms for you and deal with the courts so you don’t have to. You’ll also get a dedicated Divorce Coach who will answer any queries you might have on the legal process and emotional journey and guide you through the process – from start to finish. For amicable to help, it will cost £300 for a simple divorce/dissolution and ranges up to £2850 for help with everything including negotiating your financial split, sorting your childcare arrangements and making the divorce and financial split legally binding.
Using mediators can help you meet in the middle. Mediators normally charge from £100 an hour and most couples have between three and four sessions. However, although they can help you reach an agreement, they won’t fill out the legal documents for you. Many couples will choose to have legal advice alongside mediation (and again, any court fees will be on top). So, you can expect to pay around £300 – £400 for the mediation but you’ll need to go elsewhere for the legal bit. Therefore, be sure to consider the extra cost of getting the legal documentation sorted.
Using a divorce lawyer
Most people assume that you need a lawyer to divorce. You don’t. However, if you’re finding it hard to reach an agreement or there are any danger signs such as hiding assets, then you might need legal help. The cost will depend on what kind of divorce lawyer you use as some will bill by the hour and others will be happy to fix their fees. This ranges from £500 for a simple divorce but can reach around £15,000 if the process is long (usually because of disagreements between you). Remember that is also common for both people to get their own lawyer, unless one person decides to act on their own behalf, so the costs mentioned are per person.
Going to court
Going to court will always involve a lot of legal hours, which quickly add up, so it should be avoided if possible. The cost of court proceedings will depend on how complicated your case is but it is estimated at £13,000 per person outside of the capital, with costs reaching £40,000 per person in London – often higher.
As Mother’s Day approaches, Jacynth Bassett, founder of The Bias Cut shares her tips on using style to boost your confidence during or post-divorce.
As a mother going through divorce, a top priority is to be a solid supportive rock for your children. But as unbreakable as you may appear, that doesn’t mean there isn’t fragility and lack of confidence underneath. You may have lost confidence during a relationship, or whilst it broke down. So it’s important to take care of yourself too.
Rather than focus on the negatives, it’s important to remember a fresh start is a chance to reinvent yourself, and with that can come a lot of joy. As well as readjusting yourself on the inside, it’s important to appreciate that how you look on the outside plays a role in feeling confident. As superficial as it may seem, if you’re not feeling good about your appearance, that will have a knock-on effect on how you carry yourself, and that will affect your mood and attitude generally.
If you give yourself a little TLC and recognise how what you’re wearing can help, you may find your confidence grows. Patti S found herself starting a new career post-divorce, but by embracing her new ‘work’ wardrobe she found it boosted her self-esteem: “it took me out of my comfort zone and helped me to feel more confident in my new situation”.
So here are some tips on how you too can embrace your new chapter through style:
Try looks you previously felt you couldn’t
When you’re in a relationship it is hard not to care about what the other person thinks about how you look. As a result, you may find yourself dressing a certain way, or avoiding pieces that your partner or social circle doesn’t like or approve of. But this can lead to your losing your sense of self. Now you can have fun trying out those looks you previously resisted and truly dress to show your real self. That could be glam or it could be more casual, whatever is right for you.
“Divorcing felt like being set free to explore my own personal style again” – Anne W.
Don’t do anything drastic
Whilst you have the opportunity to try new things, equally, it is not the time to do something drastic on a whim, like getting a totally new haircut or a tattoo. It may give you a thrill in the short term, but you may live to regret it soon after and then you’ll start beating yourself up again. Take time to really consider making a big change before going ahead with it, and to check it is something you feel truly comfortable with rather than an act of rebellion.
Have a wardrobe clearance
Set aside some time to go through your wardrobe and clear-out anything that represents your previous self. This is a new chapter in your life, so remove pieces that evoke strong memories or feelings of the past that may cause you to retreat into yourself and feel low. Only keep those items that bring you pleasure and are a reflection of who you are today. That said, if you have a really favourite piece that you’re struggling to part with, again it’s best to wait a few months so you can make a more objective decision.
Remember you can treat yourself
Divorce brings financial cost so you may feel you cannot indulge on any luxuries for a while. But it is important to maintain a sense of self-worth, so the odd treat here and there, such as on a new item of clothing, is completely justified. You’re going through a difficult time as it is, small gestures of self-love are important.
Find out more about Jacynth and how style can help boost your self-confidence at the-Bias-Cut.com.
‘Family’ days like Mother’s Day after divorce or during the divorce journey can be difficult to navigate. A positive mindset and these amicable tips will help you to make the most out of the day and help you manage another day in the year as an effective co-parent.
Be sure to plan ahead – this is a key habit that you’ll have to get used to if you want to maintain a harmonious co-parenting relationship. It’s natural that Mum’s will want to spend Mother’s Day with the kids and that Dad’s will want to spend Father’s Day with the kids. Create a Parenting Plan and include where the kids will spend their time on these dates.
Focus on your kids
If they are used to old family traditions, it may be a difficult day for them. The reality is you will face many occasions where old memories and traditions remind you or the kids of how your family used to be. Adopt a mindset that embraces this new chapter of, exciting traditions and allow your kids to shape the new way of doing things.
Support your children’s relationship with their other parent
One of the best way to show your kids that you love them is to support their relationship with their other parent. Mother’s Day is an ideal opportunity to help them appreciate their mum and it might also be a good time for you to reflect on her positive qualities too. If the kids are small make sure you buy your ex a Mother’s Day card and encourage your kids do to do something nice for their Mum. And if you’re Mum, remember that Father’s Day is just around the corner, so you’ll have your time to do something nice in return.
Make what’s in your control, great
If you’re spending Mother’s Day with your kids, make the most of the day. Change is inevitable – it’s an opportunity as parents to teach your kids to embrace change. It’s hard if you can’t be with your children – especially if all your friends are with theirs. But remember its one day and the love you feel for your children and they feel for you shines brightly every day – not just on one designated Sunday in March!
Don’t get hung up on the detail
Life’s not perfect, so if your ex brings the kids back late, you can’t spend the day with your kids or it’s not quite how you’d thought it would be then take a deep breath and remember that what you’re feeling is normal and temporary.
Happy co-parenting relationships are entirely possible. For support on the transition from parent to co-parent, get in touch with an amicable expert.
One of the most common things I hear in my work as a divorce coach is ‘I want to get divorced, but I have no idea where to start’. Most people are first-time and one-time purchasers of divorce services so not surprisingly getting the ball rolling feels daunting. Arming yourself with an overview of the process can reduce stress and help you if you’re doing a DIY divorce. The below steps will guide you through how to file for a divorce in England and Wales:
First things first – To get divorced in England or Wales you must have been married a year. If you haven’t you can either wait or investigate a judicial separation. See our blog on Judicial separation for more on this.
You will need an original copy of your marriage certificate. If you’ve lost it, a new one can be ordered from the registrar where you married or from the government website. If your marriage certificate is not written in English, you must get it translated and notarised.
Decide who will be the petitioner (the person starting the divorce) and who will be the respondent (the person responding to the divorce petition). It doesn’t really matter unless of course, you are using Adultery (only the person who is on the receiving end of adultery can petition for divorce) or Unreasonable Behaviour.
Fill out a divorce petition (you can get this from the government website). Be very careful to fill out each box as required – spell everything correctly and use the help printed on the side of the petition.
Pay the divorce court fee of £550. Enclose a cheque or tick the ‘pay by debit card box’. Check if you are exempt/eligible for a discount (you can check on the government website or give us a call).
You must send three copies of the divorce petition to the court along with your marriage certificate. You need to send it to your local divorce center (you can find the address on the government website).
Wait for confirmation from the court and pay the court fees if you didn’t send a cheque.
Let your ex know their paperwork is on its way and that they will need to sign and return it to the court.
Your ex will need to sign a form that the court will send to them with the petition called an Acknowledgement of Service Form. If they don’t or you don’t hear anything from the court you should ring the court helpline on 0300 303 0642. You may need to serve papers to ensure your ex receives them.
Once your ex has returned the AOS or the court has agreed your ex has received the divorce papers you will be able to apply for your Decree Nisi. You can download the form from the government website (there are two forms you must fill in – the second form depends on the grounds you have used).
The court will write you and let you know when your Decree Nisi will be pronounced. They will send you a certificate.
Six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi you can apply for the final piece of paper – the Decree Absolute.
Once you receive your Decree Absolute – you are officially divorced. Keep the paperwork safe and start your new chapter!
amicable’s top tips
Where possible, make sure your partner agrees before you start divorce proceedings. If they contest the divorce, it can prolong the process and be expensive.
Seek expert advice if you are unsure how to fill out the forms. The rejection rate for divorce applications is high, do your research before sending off the paperwork.
Take a pragmatic approach to the paperwork. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have no-fault divorce so try and view the paperwork (especially the most commonly used reason of ‘unreasonable behaviour’) as a means to an end.
Did you know you/your ex can still make a financial claim in the future even though you’re divorced? Decide if you want to make your financial split legally binding through a consent order. A consent order will put an end to any future claims.
If you are unsure about any of the above, please call us on 0203 004 4695 or comment below and we’ll get back to you.
Divorce in later life is on the up. Although (until last year) the overall divorce rate has been falling, for the last 20 years, there’s been a steady increase in separation among the over 60s, according to the Office of National Statistics. Whatever the reason – whether it’s down to the aging population, less stigma around divorce, or the fact that more women are in work and financially independent – there’s a rising tide of “silver splitters”.
Divorce brings challenges whatever your age. But separating when you’re older and have been together for a long time, brings a unique set of difficulties. Splitting assets that you have spent decades accumulating can be intricate and complex. It can also be very hard to leave a house that you’ve called home for many years, with all the memories it holds. On top of that, if you’re both retired you may not have ready access to the money you need to go through a divorce. A pension may have been enough to cover the cost of one household, but can it stretch to supporting two?
If you are 55 or over, and own a property worth at least £70,000, a lifetime mortgage might be the answer.
What is a lifetime mortgage?
If you have been paying into your property for most of your life, it’s likely to be your biggest asset. But how do you access this wealth? Selling the house is not the only answer. A lifetime mortgage is a long-term loan that is secured against your home. It allows you to release some of the value of your house, so you can use the money now.
Freeing up these funds could help you pay for new housing for one of you, while the other stays in the family home. This way you don’t have to say goodbye to it, and your children and grandchildren won’t either.
What are the plus points of a lifetime mortgage?
The lump sum of money you unlock from your house is tax-free and you will still own 100% of the property.
Unlike most mortgages, you don’t have to make any monthly repayments. (When you die or move into long-term care, the home is sold and money from the sale is used to pay off the loan.)
Perhaps most importantly, no matter how much money you choose to free up, you are never able to borrow more than your house is worth. This means you won’t pass any debt on to your children.
Are there any downsides I need to think about?
It’s important to remember that interest is charged on the money you take out and that you’re reducing the value of your home – by the loan amount, plus any interest – to be inherited by your children.
A lifetime mortgage may also affect whether you can get state benefits.
For more information about lifetime mortgages contact The Financial Planning Group. For advice on how to separate amicably in later life, with a fair financial split, please contact us on 020 3004 4695.