Is a Consent Order required to be signed by a solicitor?

 

A solicitor does not need to sign off on consent orders. Before signing off on proposed Consent Orders, neither party is required to obtain independent legal advice.  When parties are in agreement with one another, they do not seek independent legal advice and therefore do not require a solicitor to sign off on the documents being filed.

 

In addition, the court documents do not need to be witnessed, whether by a Solicitor or a Justice of the Peace, or indeed by anyone, and all documents can be signed by both parties.

 

Obtaining Consent Orders should be contrasted with signing a Binding Financial Agreement, a different document, but one that achieves the same result in that it finalizes the property settlement between the parties. Each party must obtain independent legal advice prior to signing a Binding Financial Agreement. The solicitors of each party must sign a certificate as part of the Binding Financial Agreement, indicating that they have advised their clients about the agreement and its advantages and disadvantages. The two documents are very different from one another, primarily because a Binding Financial Agreement is not filed with a court and is essentially a contract between the parties to the relationship. A Consent Order is filed with the Court and reviewed by a Judicial Officer, so there is a safety net in place that protects the parties to some extent, which protection does not exist for a Binding Financial Agreement.

 

Even if a solicitor does not review the Consent Orders prior to their filing, it is always wise for parties to obtain some legal advice before signing off on such orders, as this gives me peace of mind that they are agreeing to what is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of their case.