You are divorcing and want to divide your finances. You have been able to reach an agreement with your spouse, but is this binding?

An informal agreement reached between you and your ex-spouse or civil partner will not be legally binding. You will need to ensure that your agreement is incorporated into a Consent Order, which will reflect the agreement that you have reached regarding what will happen to your finances.

The Consent Order will then need to be submitted to the court for approval. There is usually no need for you to actually attend court, as where both parties have received independent legal advice, a judge will be reluctant to interfere with an agreement. A judge will only do so if they have real concerns about the fairness of the agreement.

It is therefore advisable that, even if you and your ex-spouse or civil partner have reached an agreement between yourselves, both of you obtain independent legal advice on the terms of the agreement before it is formalised.

You should also ensure that you have exchanged full details of your respective financial circumstances, with supporting documents, so that you have a complete understanding of the overall financial picture. This, coupled with advice on the terms of the agreement, will ensure that you are both aware of the legal consequences of what you are agreeing to, and whether it constitutes a fair settlement.