This form provides information about both parties’ financial circumstances to support an application for a consent order. The Form D81 has recently been updated, and the new version has been in use since 3rd February 2022.
When is a D81 form required?
Getting a divorce does not end the financial obligations of couples. So, unless you obtain a consent order to finalise the finances, there would be nothing stopping the other party from bringing a financial claim at any point in the future (unless they remarry). When the court is asked to approve a consent order, they will need to review the elements making up the couple’s financial circumstances who are divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership. The judge can then assess whether the agreement that the parties have reached is fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case.
Form D81 is part of this final process. It supports an application for a consent order or a financial remedy order. You can download a D81 form here.
How does the new D81 form work?
The new and longer form now requires significantly greater detail, particularly as to the parties’ current financial situation or income.
Parties are now required to submit information as to the impact of child support assessment by the CMS and what the impact will be of interim spousal maintenance. The new D81 form also provides an agreement of interim maintenance orders, which is hoped will speed up such approvals.
In one of the most significant updates, the new D81 requires a greater level of detail of the impact of the proposed consent order. Regarding capital orders, parties will now be required to describe in some detail:
- the extent of any departures from equality and, where they exist;
- to explain them
Additionally, parties will be expected to apply the same level of detail as to the net effect of maintenance proposals. When completing these forms, it is important to include information about why you have come to the financial split you have decided on so that a judge can agree that it is fair and understand what you are agreeing to. Typically, one of the most common reasons a court returns a proposed consent order is the failure to explain a significant departure from equality, especially if parties have not sought legal representation.
Another new requirement relates to the level of detail required if the proposed consent order includes a clean break – when you and your partner are both in complete agreement regarding your financial commitments, have no spousal payments and you both wish to be financially separate after your separation. In these cases, parties must explain why that income clean break is fair and how parties will meet their own future income needs. The old D81 form did not require any explanation, and where a judge felt it was unclear would have been a reason an order was returned to parties for further clarification in the past.
The new D81 form also requires parties to provide a greater level of information regarding living arrangements, including:
- where each will live in the future,
- where their children will live,
- information on who will own their property and who will be renting.
The increased level of detail required seems intended to ensure such arrangements are fair and do not involve significant housing inequality between the parties’ future housing, especially where children are involved.
What happens once the D81 form is completed?
Once parties have completed the forms and the terms agreed to, all the information will be sent to the court for approval. The court will still need to approve the agreement and be satisfied that the agreement is fair based on the parties’ circumstances.
Whilst the process to complete the forms will likely be longer due to the level of detail required, it is expected that the consent approval system should be quicker. As mentioned above, one of the most common reasons consent orders were returned unapproved in the past, was due to inadequate information in the application. By the new form forcing greater detail from the onset, this should reduce the likelihood of this happening, and the approval process will hopefully be quicker.
Family Law Advice
Now more than ever, consent orders require a high level of care and attention. It is essential you seek specialist family law advice to ensure that your future financial position and legal rights are protected.
Furthermore, seeking appropriate legal advice shows the court that you have had the contents explained to you and ensures you are fully aware of what agreement you will be legally bound by. The court is more likely to approve a consent order if both parties have had independent legal advice.
We realise that communication between you and your spouse may be strained, and you will want help negotiating the terms of your consent order. Our matrimonial finance solicitors in Kingston will be able to provide you with practical advice regarding all divorce financial settlement matters, D81 forms, consent orders, and clean break agreements.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our team of solicitors