A Consent Order or a Separation Agreement? What’s the Difference?

Posted by Jonathan Jerkins | Jun 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

When considering how to address differing opinions about child support, alimony, child custody, and property, it can be hard to decide what process is right for you. Two potential resolution options are consent orders and separation agreements. Both are ways of coming to an agreement; however, they have significant differences that are important to understand. The key differences are in how they can be enforced, how they can be modified, and how private they are.

What is a Consent Order?

A consent order is similar to a court order in that a judge signs the agreement. As a result, it's enforceable in the same way—you can enforce the order using the contempt powers of the court (filing a motion of contempt). The agreement itself is usually negotiated outside of the court and then submitted to the judge for approval. If you or your ex wants to modify or change something in the consent order, you will have to file a motion for modification, and a judge will have to approve that motion. Finally, a consent order is a matter of public record, so the terms are not necessarily private.

What's a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement can outline the terms of a divorce between two individuals. It may include aspects such as custody agreements, property distribution, etc. This agreement is then signed by both parties and notarized; once it is notarized, the separation agreement is considered a legal contract. If there is a breach of contract, the way to address this breach would usually be a legal case suing the other party for breach of contract. It can take longer, then, to enforce the terms of the agreement than that of a custody order. If either party wants to modify the agreement, both parties have to agree to the change—and then sign an addendum or modification. This can be both simpler and harder than modification with a custody order. Finally, separation agreements are private and not usually part of the public record.

Contact a Skilled North Carolina Family Law Attorney

If you are considering a divorce or separation, here at Jerkins Family Law, we can help you discern (and execute) the best route of action. Call us today at 919-719-2785 or contact us online.

About the Author

Jonathan Jerkins

Jonathan "Jay" Jerkins, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, intentionally focuses his practice on all aspects of North Carolina family law litigation and negotiations. Jay was admitted to the practice of law in North Carolina in 2014.


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