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| 1 minute read

Will a modernisation of the D81 improve the efficiency of the process for considering financial agreements on divorce?

On a divorce, clients will always be advised to document any financial agreement they might have reached with their spouse in a formal order of the court, known as a consent order. A question often asked of family lawyers is whether the court simply "rubberstamps" any agreement reached? Even in cases where the parties have reached a full agreement, the court has a duty to consider the overall fairness of that agreement, and ensure that, once implemented, the parties are both going to be in a position to meet their respective needs and those of any children.

When lodging a financial agreement with the court, the proposed order must always be accompanied by a brief statement (known as a D81) documenting brief details of the relationship and the parties' respective resources. The idea being that this statement provides enough information for the court to consider whether or not the agreement reached is fair, and importantly, within the parameters of what a court might have ordered had their involvement been required.  

Another of the (many!) recent changes in family law is an overhaul of this document. The new D81 (to be used on all new consent order applications unless signed prior to 18 February 2022) goes into significantly more detail than the previous version of the form. Practitioners are hopeful that, whilst it may take a little longer to complete, providing the additional information to the court will result in fewer applications being returned with questions about why the assets/income stream have been dealt with in a particular way.

It is clear that the D81 will take longer to complete and so will add to costs in those cases where solicitors are preparing the document. However, the intention is to ensure that fewer consent orders are returned by judges unapproved and demanding more information. The most frequent reasons that orders are not approved, particularly unexplained departures from equality of capital and grossly different post-divorce incomes, should now be a thing of the past.


family law