May 12, 2024

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Separation Agreements: Understanding Consent Orders 

Separation Agreements: Understanding Consent Orders 

When separating from a partner, many people wonder how to finalize their agreements without going through a lengthy court process.

A cost-effective solution could be consent orders, which address both financial and parenting issues.

Note: It is generally recommended that you seek out legal advice from a qualified family lawyer when considering a consent order.

What Are Consent Orders?

Consent orders are legally binding agreements made by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Court) based on the mutual consent of you and your ex-partner.

They hold the same legal weight as orders made after prolonged court battles.

Benefits of Consent Orders

Consent orders can address both financial and parenting matters together or separately.

Only one party needs to have legal representation, but it’s advisable for both to seek legal advice due to the seriousness of these agreements.

They are cost-effective compared to other methods such as:

  • Property Orders – Once issued, they are difficult to overturn unless specific grounds are met.
  • Parenting Orders – Similarly, these can only be changed if specific criteria are met or both parties agree.

Applying for Consent Orders

To apply for consent orders, you’ll need three documents:

1. Application Form

This form provides the court with each party’s current financial and parenting details.

It ensures the court understands the context and can confirm the proposed agreement is fair for property matters and in the child’s best interest for parenting matters.

2. Proposed Orders

These are the agreed-upon terms between both parties. The application aims to have the court approve the proposed orders according to your wishes.

3. Notices

This document addresses child abuse, family violence, or other risks in parenting matters.

Key Considerations for Property Consent Orders

Before meeting with a lawyer for a property consent order, consider:

  • Financial Contributions – Include direct and indirect financial inputs like deposits, renovations, or unpaid work. Were family gifts considered loans or gifts to both parties?
  • Inheritance/Family Assistance- Note any inheritance or family assistance received.
  • Non-Financial Contributions – Care duties, including child and domestic care, unpaid renovation work, or other contributions.
  • Future Needs Factors – Health, age, and earning capacity, including family trust interests.

Key Considerations for Parenting Consent Orders

When preparing for a parenting consent order, have details ready for your lawyer about:

  • Parenting History and Accommodation – Where the children live and the relative distance between residences.
  • Children’s Health and Education- Any ongoing medical needs, school information, and financial support.
  • Risks – Possible risks like substance abuse, violence, or health issues that could impact the children.

Timeframes and Deadlines

After filing, consent orders usually take 6-8 weeks to process, depending on court caseloads.

If more information is required, the Registrar will issue a requisition, which is a formal request to provide additional details.

When to Lodge Your Consent Order Application

Married couples must apply within 12 months of divorce, while those in de facto relationships have 24 months.

In these situations, the court allows late consent orders if the application includes an order to apply out of time.

Need legal advice?

Consent orders offer a structured and legally binding way to resolve family law matters while minimizing the emotional toll.

If you’re considering formalizing an agreement, consult a qualified family lawyer who can tailor the process to your unique needs.