What is a Consent Order?
A consent order is an order of court entered into by the agreement of parties, which is legally binding. There are two types of consent orders under a divorce case.
The first is a "Simplified Consent Order", which is produced under uncontested and simplified divorce cases.
The second type is a "Judge made Consent Order", which is produced under Contested divorce cases, after court proceedings have commenced.
Before elaborating on what consent orders are, it is worth mentioning that divorce cases in Singapore are classified as either contested or uncontested. In uncontested and simplified divorce, parties are agreeable on all the Ancillary matters,Such as:
- The reasons for the breakdown of the marriage;
- Custody issues – if parties have Children;
- Care and control of the Children – if any;
- Division of matrimonial assets;
- Spousal maintenance; and
For a contested divorce, on the other hand, parties are unagreeable on any issues.
Under both types of consent orders, the issues as presented above must have a final conclusion. For uncontested and simplified divorce cases, the terms of the consent order are derived as a result of numerous rounds of private negotiation or court mediation. For contested divorce cases, the terms of the consent order are decided by the Court.
To put things into context, for example, after rounds of negotiation between parties to a divorce, a consent order may state the following:
- That “parties shall have joint custody of the child of the marriage”, and that they “shall be at liberty to choose their primary residence”;
- That “parties agree that they are entitled to an equal share of the matrimonial property”;
- “The matrimonial property situated at X shall be sold in the open market, within 12 months from the date of Final Judgement”;
- That “there shall be no maintenance for the Plaintiff”;
- “Parties shall bear their own respective legal costs”.
A party who is aggrieved by the consent order or later on changes his mind cannot appeal against the consent order. However, following the insertions of Sections 73 and 119 the Women’s Charter (Cap 353, 2009 Rev Ed) (“WC”) in 1980, the court has been empowered to vary a consent order relating to the maintenance of a child or a former wife, such as in instances where there is a material change in circumstances, or if the original order has become “unworkable”. For example, where a party’s previously strong financial status had deteriorated drastically.