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Consent Orders - anyone used Wikivorce or other online services?

(30 Posts)
ChangingWoman Tue 08-May-12 01:30:48

Decree Nisi was finalised this week. We've had a written agreement about finances and children set out between us since we decided to divorce and now want to get this turned into a legally binding Consent Order to submit to the court.

The Wikivorce and other online services look affordable (£139-£200) and since we're already long agreed on everything, it seems like a good option.

Has anyone had any good or bad experience in getting Consent Orders drawn up by the Wiki lot or any others online? Any particular recommendations?



OP’s posts: |
MOSagain Tue 08-May-12 16:20:48

I really would advise against it. For 139 - 200 you are not going to get specialist advice on anciallary relief (finances). I have seen people come unstuck when they take short cuts dealing with important issues such as the finances on the breakdown of their marriage and sadly it can sometimes cost them more in the longrun when they find out that the document they have is not legally binding.

Please consider instructing a specialist family lawyer. Have a look at the Resolution website for one close to you.

mumblechum1 Tue 08-May-12 16:25:51

How did you come to your agreement, ie did you use a professional mediator? The danger is that you may sign a binding agreement but without taking proper advice.

For example, how did you work out the split of pension assets? If you earn significantly less than your husband, have you worked out a formula for spousal maintenance, and if so, what are the triggers for it ending? Has child maintenance been agreed, and what arrangements are in place for it increasing in line either with inflation or based on his payslips? What about bonuses; are they also going to be shared with you/the children?

It's worth spending a few hundred quid to get proper advice, when you think how many tens of thousands of pounds you could be diddling yourself out of without it.

ChangingWoman Wed 09-May-12 23:46:20

Thanks both. In a different situation I would completely take these views on board, would want the gold-plated option and would probably give the same advice to others. However, unless I hear some absolute horror stories relevant to my circumstances here or elsewhere, I'm likely to go ahead with the low-cost option.

There is actually only one clause in the consent order that I'd ever bother getting enforced through the courts and that's the one saying that he can make no future claim against me. (I don't believe he would but life can be unpredictable.) I've been led to understand that the language for this is usually pretty standard?

ExH has an alcohol problem, no savings and a tiny pension he hasn't paid into for years. I am the higher earner, have had a pension since my early twenties and have no interest in receiving spousal maintenance or any part of his pension. The marriage was less than 10 years.

The family home is in my name and Ex does not want to claim anything from it as he accepts that I saved the deposit, took out the mortgage and paid it every month while he contributed nothing at any stage (I am an idiot). Unfortunately, his tens of thousands of pounds of debt are also in my name since he was unable to get credit (won't make that mistake again either). Neither of us has any other significant assets.

Yes, we have agreed on a level of child support in line with his current salary with annual reviews for inflation or change of circumstance on either side. Any future disputes about child support would have to go through the CSA after a year anyway, I think.

We have agreed that any future bonuses or cash gifts received by him are to be split 50/50 between us until such time as the debts above are paid off etc..

In summary, exH has nothing except a monthly salary. He's chaotic and financially irresponsible and my expectations of him are low regardless of his intentions. In the event of him breaking the terms of the Consent Order, nothing would be worth the expense and effort of enforcing other than the clause that he will not claim against me in future.

I don't have much spare cash. On paper my salary is too good to qualify for any help with legal costs but childcare, mortgage and commuting mean that I don't actually have anything left over at the end of the month to pay the ~£800 it seems to cost to get a consent order from a local law firm. I'm in line for small bonus at work this month (a couple of hundred) and will be using this to get the Consent Order done online.

OP’s posts: |
Llareggub Wed 09-May-12 23:50:05

Goodness me. We are in EXACTLY the same situation. It is pants, isn't it?

mumblechum1 Thu 10-May-12 08:07:45

Oh, right OK. In that case, make sure the dismissal clauses cover EVERYTHING, ie

Secured Provision
Property Adjustment
Pension sharing/earmarking
Claims under the Inheritance (provision for family and dependents) Act 1975
Any other claims under Ss 23 & 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973

remember that you both need to service statements setting out your financial position as well as the consent order, which needs to be in triplicate. And there's a fee of £45 payable to the court.

ChangingWoman Thu 10-May-12 10:56:19

Thanks Mumblechum - that's really helpful. Will make sure it's all in there.

OP’s posts: |
Stepmum395 Sat 12-May-12 10:24:46

OP, it sounds like you are the one at most financial risk in the future. I seriously advise getting proper family solicitor advice. If you've already agreed everything the advice and document won't be too expensive (obv not as cheap as online) and could potentially save you thousands further down the line. This is not the time to save cash. You need to be certain you are protected.

Llareggub Sat 12-May-12 12:16:40

My solicitor quoted me around £800 for a consent order. I was very impressed with her and felt comfortable with the advice given. I would go with the advice to seek face to face advice. Frankly the questions she asked me were worth the price alone!

ChangingWoman Sat 12-May-12 14:31:11

Yes, I was quoted around the £800-850 mark too.

I do agree that a local family solicitor is the ideal option but it's all rather academic as I don't have a spare £800 and won't do for years. To even consider borrowing that money (on top of the exH debts) I'd need some evidence that I really needed the superior (local sol) option in my particular circumstances and I don't think I have that evidence at the moment. My choice is really between no consent order or a Wikivorce consent order.

All I really need is a single clause, stamped by the court, to prevent exH trying to claim from me in any form in future. (This remains unlikely but future partners and unstable relatives could be an influence and I want to close that door now if I can.) The rest of the consent order is more to give very disorganised ExH a framework to remind him in black in white of what we have agreed. There are no circumstances in which I would seek to claim anything from him other than through the CSA if necessary.

OP’s posts: |
Llareggub Sat 12-May-12 16:10:34

We really are in the same boat.

ChangingWoman Sat 12-May-12 18:05:28

Llareggub: I can easily believe it - one thing I've learned from Mumsnet is that I didn't just marry a man, I married a pattern of negative behaviour... It's quite sad how you see the same stories again and again on here.

Hope all goes smoothly for you.

OP’s posts: |
cbmum Sat 12-May-12 20:44:56

Hi. It sounds to me as though the solicitors you contacted are being slightly high on the costs. For something like you outline, if it's all agreed and I am literally drafting and explains the consent order, I usually allow 2-3 hours. I charge £185p hr + VAT but usually reckon to come in under that!

Have another look at the Resolution list and make some more calls.

mumblechum1 Sun 13-May-12 08:42:04

cbmum, same here; my charging rate's £185 plus VAT and I reckon if everythign's already agreed and it's just a matter of drafting the CO and having it approved, signing the client up and doing the M1, you're talking two hours, so £370 plus VAT.

Problem is that often it's not that straightforward.

Llareggub Sun 13-May-12 08:56:39

That is interesting. I wonder if my solicitor will be up for negotiating her fees. Our situation is all agreed. I shall ask her for her hourly rate and an estimate on how long it will take.

cbmum Sun 13-May-12 21:13:29

mumblechum it's good to see there are a few of us realistic enough to be flexible on costs!

I agree it's not always that simple but if you don't ask you don't get. My firm is looking to roll out fixed fees for preparing consent orders plus lots of other tasks. I reckon it'll be live within 6 months. Interestingly lots of other firms are doing it too. Most firms seem to be charging approx £500 incl for consent orders.

reluctantmpvdriver Sun 13-May-12 22:10:23

I am a solicitor (although not a family solicitor) and I would never enter into a arrangement like this without a specialist - if only for the peace of mind . Do find a cheaper solicitor.

Peppin Tue 15-May-12 16:58:57

Second the previous post on all counts. You do not want to be trying to get a crap consent order set aside in future - that would cost a lot more than £800!

At my firm we do pro bono work at our local CAB in the evenings. Anyone can get free advice. I would really recommend you contact your local CAB for advice as a minimum. Online divorce/will-writing providers are not worth the trouble that will inevitably be stored up for your future. And usually they've gone out of business anyway by the time you realise you need to make a negligence claim against them.

ChasingSquirrels Tue 15-May-12 17:03:27

Interesting, I was just looking at this today.
I have filled in all my divorce paperwork and just need to think about the consent order.

Separated 4 years, agreed split of finances between us and actioned it.

All I want to make sure of is that he isn't able to make any financial claim on me in the future, and I am fairly certain that is all be will be bothered about as well.

I don't want advice as to whether it is a "fair" financial settlement, or whether I could get more.

In these circumstances what am I paying extra to a local solicitor for?

reluctantmpvdriver Tue 15-May-12 20:43:39

I am not sure how wikivorce etc works but I would not be comfortable with not having a person taking the facts of my case as you need a person to ask you the right questions and really pick up on issues or matters that might be harder to to winkle out in an online questionnaire. An order based on wrong facts or which does not take account of all the facts may be open to challenge.

There may be other considerations too (I don't know personally as I am not in that field). For instance - there are circumstances (in other fields of law) where orders can be overturned if parties were not legally advised and therefore you have to get the parties to sign up to documents saying that they have had advice (even if they have not) . I really don't know if that is the case here - but it is because I don't know that I would always go for a face to face lawyer so that I can ask the questions.

Also - and this is quite remote - if the legal advice you are given is wrong - you have recourse to the lawyer - you can pursue the lawyer in court or through its regulating body to recoup your losses. I am not sure that that is the case with an online service.

A family lawyers advice here would be useful - in broadly what circumstances can an order be overturned?

nocake Tue 15-May-12 20:48:49

A friend used an online service to draft her consent order and ended up with an unenforcable document. That meant her ex stopped paying child maintenance and she was unable to take any action for months, until the CSA would take it on. She ended up out of pocket by a lot of money, many times more than it would have cost to get a local solicitor to draft the consent order.

Please don't do it. Use a local solicitor instead, preferably one that's been recommended to you.

Collaborate Wed 16-May-12 00:22:05

"A family lawyers advice here would be useful - in broadly what circumstances can an order be overturned?"

I could give a lengthy reply.....

dbno Wed 20-Jun-12 22:51:48

Hi all,

This may be a bit late - but I just came across this thread.

I work at Wikivorce and thought that I could usefully clarify a few points.

The Wikivorce consent order service is a solicitor service, it is just that we charge a lot less. The main solicitors we use are Brethertons - they are a well respected law firm with a strong family law team including several specialist family law solictors.

If you use a local solicitor be sure to ask how much of their time they spend doing family law as opposed to personal injury, employment law etc.

The Wikivorce service includes the professional drafting of a consent order and legal advice on that order.

Its does not include negotiating with the other side to reach a deal.

You have all of the same protections using Wikivorce and Brethertons as you have with a high street lawyer (professional indemnity, regulated by SRA, ability to complain to legal ombudsman etc).

You are right to be wary of other online services that do not use solicitors and are not delivered by a good family law firm.

If you have any further questions you can call the Wikivorce helpline on:
0800 44886644 or 01202 805020

Screenwipe Tue 02-Apr-13 14:20:47

Hi CW. How did you get on with getting your consent order? Just asking as I have opted to use Bretherton's via Wikivorce.

peedoff2012 Thu 27-Feb-14 08:18:40

I'd like to warn anyone against using Wikivorce. They are incompetent, as are Brethertons.

Just do a search online to see all the people who've had hassle with them!

Really isn't worth it, go somewhere else where you will get a PROPER job done.

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