Article reference: UK-IA-FAM08

Financial costs of a consent order: how much you'll pay

A consent order is a legal document that has been approved by the Court and which sets out the financial agreement made by an ex-husband and ex-wife in a divorce case. The document provides a final settlement as to how assets and debts are divided. You may like to read more about what is a consent order.

The costs involved in creating a consent order can vary greatly depending on how you go about obtaining one, whether you have many assets and whether you and your ex-spouse act amicably.

Breaking down the costs of a consent order

Valuation fees

You are likely to own assets that have a subjective value. Some will be more subjective than others. You may be able to agree on the financial and sentimental value of some quite easily with your ex-spouse. Others may be more contentious.

The assets that most people own that are difficult to value are those where the value is only known when the asset is sold or 'liquidated'. More so, how the asset is sold also matters - a firesale at your local auction house is less likely to yield as much money as a private sales process. You may need to obtain valuations from third party experts if you can't agree with your ex-spouse how much you think something is worth. Those experts might include one or more:

  • estate agents or property surveyors to value your home and any other investment property
  • auction houses to value antiques
  • actuaries to value your pension(s) or life assurance policy
  • accountants to value a business

The fees for such experts varies. Most valuers will quote an hourly rate, but a fixed fee rate might be more appropriate to keep costs certain, comparative and low. An accountant or an actuary might charge £200 per hour for valuing a business, and a valuation might run into thousands of pounds.

Some valuers may quote a fee based on the value of the asset. Remember in this situation that high valuations cost you in cash more now than you might receive later. A valuation is only an educated guess.

Your house is likely to the least expensive asset to value, simply because if there is a likelihood of you selling it, estate agents are likely to give a free valuation in return for the possibility that you use their services when you sell.

Consent order preparation fees

There are several ways to draft a consent order and they vary in cost. You might want to read about the application process for obtaining a consent order.

Solicitor managed services A solicitor managed consent order is a common way of obtaining a consent order but is likely to cost the most.

A solicitor should give advice on the process and likely outcome, and the draft consent order should be simple for the court to agree. Consent orders can be challenged later in very specific circumstances, but using a solicitor should keep the possibility of a challenge low.

Solicitors’ services and prices vary. Some will only work with parties who have already agreed on the financial distribution and are simply looking to have it drawn into an agreement. Others will work with parties from the beginning and help them to reach an agreement.

Typically, solicitors’ services will include:

  • Draft statements of information for both parties
  • Draft consent orders for both parties to sign
  • Advice
  • Filing documents with the court

The typical price for such a service is around £1,500.

Online solicitors Some solicitors offer an online service. You and your ex-spouse send your financial information and suggested agreement to the solicitor who drafts legal wording and sends copies back to both of you.

Online solicitors usually act as a drafting service only and rarely file the consent order. You will probably have to do this yourself. The service may or may not include legal advice, but when the cost is for a fixed fee, a solicitor is unlikely to offer much more than the drafting work.

Prices for online solicitors are usually between £250 and £500.

Consent order document templates You can draft your own consent order using a document template. The government provides the forms for free, but without any guidance as to how to complete them correctly. Some divorce websites also provide forms (sometimes for 'free' if you subscribe to their site). Net Lawman provides consent order packs that include the forms, plus completed examples, plus guidance on valuing assets for between £35 and £45.

Once you have completed the forms, you can file the order with the court and wait for the application to be accepted. Filing fees will still apply (see below).

Doing it yourself does greatly reduce the cost but this method is not without disadvantages:

  • You need to be able to communicate with your ex-spouse throughout. Your divorce needs to be amicable.
  • You need enough guidance to be able to complete the forms correctly.

However, there is an alternative use for these forms. You can use them to reduce the fees a solicitor will charge by doing some of the work a solicitor would do yourself.

The process of completing the forms will give you a better understanding of the work a solicitor will do. You will also work out what you want from the consent order.

Although this option is more expensive than completing and filing the forms yourself, using document templates to draft your own order, then having a solicitor check the document could save you around £800.

Court fees (filing fees) The filing fees are the least expensive cost. At the moment, the fee is £45. They pay for the time during which the case will be in front of the Court.

You may be eligible for reduced court fees if you are on a low income.

Financial order fees Financial orders are different to consent orders. If you can't agree a split of your assets, you can ask a Court to do so for you. Applying for a financial order costs £240. The process usually takes about 6 to 12 months.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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