Consent Order vs Separation Agreement: What You Need to Know
When a marriage ends, there are several legal documents that can be used to formalize the terms of the separation. Two of the most common documents are a consent order and a separation agreement. While these two documents share some similarities, they have distinct differences that divorcing couples should understand.
A consent order is a legally binding document that sets out the terms of the financial settlement between a divorcing couple. It is usually used when the divorce is finalized in court. The consent order sets out how assets, income, and other financial matters are divided between the parties. This includes the division of property, debts, and any ongoing financial support, such as spousal maintenance or child support.
The terms of a consent order are decided by both parties and then approved by a judge. Once approved, it becomes a legally binding document that can be enforced if either party breaches its terms.
A separation agreement is also a legal document that sets out the terms of the separation. However, it is usually used when the parties have agreed to separate but have not yet finalized their divorce. The separation agreement covers many of the same issues as a consent order, including property division, debt allocation, and financial support.
Unlike a consent order, a separation agreement does not require court approval, although it is recommended that both parties have legal counsel to review the document. Once signed, a separation agreement becomes a legally binding contract between the parties.
Differences between Consent Order and Separation Agreement
The main difference between these two documents is their timing. A consent order is typically used after the divorce is finalized, while a separation agreement is used during the separation period before the divorce is finalized.
Another difference is the level of court involvement. A consent order requires court approval, which means that a judge will review the terms of the agreement to ensure that it is fair and reasonable. A separation agreement, on the other hand, does not require court approval, which means that the parties have more flexibility in negotiating the terms of the agreement.
Which one to choose?
Deciding which document is right for you depends on your specific situation. If you and your spouse have already finalized your divorce or are in the process of doing so, a consent order is likely the best option. If you are still in the process of separating and are not yet ready to file for divorce, a separation agreement is the better choice.
Overall, both consent orders and separation agreements are effective tools for finalizing the terms of a separation. It is important to work with an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights are protected, and the document you sign is legally enforceable.