Family Law Consent Orders – are they worth my while?
Consent Orders are a written agreement approved by the court. They can be used for agreements about the children as well as financial matters such as property settlement and spousal maintenance.
In short, if you’ve decided to obtain Consent Orders, congratulations; we believe this is a good step. You will escape the expensive and uncertain path of court proceedings and trial.
The steps to obtaining Consent Orders?
To ensure any agreement you have reached with your former spouse is enforceable, you should have a lawyer who is experienced in family law, draft an Application for Consent Orders to the Federal Circuit Court. This is to deter your former partner from contravening your agreement as you will be able to have Consent Orders legally enforced.
An experienced family lawyer will be able to advise you of the practicalities of your proposed agreement and highlight any issues which you may not have considered. However most importantly, at Hall Payne we will advise you if you are getting the short end of the stick in regards to your proposed parenting or property arrangements.
If your informal agreement is uncontested and neither of you have filed an application for Consent Orders with the court, there are two ways to formalise your agreement.
In Family Law matters where you are working through financial matters after the relationship has broken down, we recommend you seek Consent Orders rather than a Binding Financial Agreements (BFA).
This is because Consent Orders are much more cost effective, offer more certainty and equity in the long term. In certain circumstances where parties have reached an agreement and no further negotiations are required Hall Payne can offer a fixed fee for having your Consent Orders finalised, thereby, providing you with financial certainty and reducing your legal costs.
Since Consent Orders are the primary way forward let’s discuss the process below:
Drafting the Orders and Application
The essence of your agreement with your former partner will be drafted as a Consent Order, along with an Application for Consent Orders.
The Application for Consent Orders itself requires a significant amount of disclosure and information from both parties. Since the Application is the first time a Court is considering your matter the Application needs to provide the court with the necessary information to satisfy it that your proposed Orders are:
- just and equitable for property and financial matters; and
- if a child is involved, the Orders are in the best interests of the child.
Filing the Application in the Federal Circuit Court
Once the Application and Orders have been agreed to by both parties we will strongly advise your former partner to seek independent legal advice before signing. However, this is not mandated by the courts. When both parties have signed the Application and the Orders it will have to be filed with the Family Court of Australia and any court fees paid. As at writing this article, there is a $165 court filing fee, or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption.
After filing and payment of fees, it will take approximately two or three weeks for the Orders to be finalised by the Registrar.
Once the agreement is finalised, Consent Orders will be issued by the court and enforceable at law.
How to ensure your eligibility for Consent Orders
To be eligible for this cost effective process, you must ensure the following:
- You must lodge your application within the legal time frames – within 12 months of a divorce or 2 years of the breakdown of a de facto relationship;
- Both parties must agree to the Orders in their entirety;
- Both parties must consider their legal obligations and consequences of breaching the Orders; and
- Both parties must have a dispute resolution mechanism in place to ensure that the parties follow the Orders.
If you require advice or assistance in relation to Consent Orders or any other Family Law matter, please feel free to get in touch directly with today’s blog writer, Solicitor in Family Law, Gary Su.
This article relates to Australian law; either at a State or Federal level.
The information contained on this site is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of such information. Appropriate professional advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact Hall Payne Lawyers.