Family Lore Clinic: What is the difference between a consent order and decree absolute?

Not the sort of question a family lawyer might expect, but perhaps indicative of our slightly confusing system where, unlike in some other jurisdictions, all matters relating to a divorce are not dealt with together.

[Once again I am taking the term 'consent order' to mean the order setting out an agreed financial/property settlement on divorce, although for the purposes of this post it would make no difference if the settlement was not agreed, but instead imposed by the court.]

A consent order and the decree absolute are two quite separate things, but they are both to do with the end of the divorce process, and they are often made at or about the same time. I suppose one way of putting it is that the consent order finalises the financial/property settlement and the decree absolute finalises the divorce itself.

There is, however, one proviso: if the consent order is made before the decree absolute, it will not take effect until the decree absolute. For further details, see this post.

Often, it is important that the consent order is made before the decree absolute. If you are unsure about this, or if you would like more detailed advice, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.