Consent orders – all you need to know

A consent order is essentially a court order for family law matters, be it parenting arrangements or financial settlement (or both), that is entered into by private agreement between the parties and sealed by the court. What this means is that, rather than two people arguing their issues before a judge and allowing that judge to make a decision as to what happens to them, those people make an agreement with which they are both satisfied, and apply for a consent order to reflect their wishes. It is not only a quicker and more cost effective way to resolve issues at separation, but it is more likely to see a better outcome for all involved.

By its very name, a consent order is indeed an order made by the consent of the parties entering into it. This means that the people involved have entered into their agreement freely and voluntarily and consent to the order being made. For this reason, the court is usually inclined to make the orders for which parties have applied, on the basis that the parties themselves have considered their agreement to be just and equitable, and/or in the best interests of their child or children.

A consent order does not need to be drafted by a solicitor. The Family Court of Australia website provides free DIY kits to assist people to make these applications themselves. Many people opt to have a solicitor do the application, however, as they can ensure that the application is compliant, truly reflects the wishes of the parties, and has the expected legal effect and practical consequences desired. We are regularly approached by separating couples who have filed an application with the court and it has been dismissed. The court will not explain why it has been dismissed, but it is often due to lack of disclosure in the application itself, or most commonly, poorly drafted orders in the Minute of Consent Order. As much as the system attempts to be accessible to self-represented parties, solicitors have endured many years of study and practical experience to be able to draft these orders, and their assistance in these matters can be invaluable.

At Kate Austin Family Law we offer a low cost fixed fee consent order service, so as to make this assistance more accessible to those who need it. We are highly experienced and can ensure that your orders not only see you with the outcome you want, but cover all the things you haven’t even thought of, with our documents being drafted and filed in a timely manner.

FIVE GOOD REASONS TO GET CONSENT ORDERS: 

So you’ve reached an agreement for your property settlement, or in relation to the future care arrangements for your children.  You know you could get it formalised, but that’d mean getting a lawyer involved, and that’ll cost money.  It’s taken a while to get to an agreement with your ex, you’re busy and you just don’t want to think about it anymore.

There’s a few things that you might not have thought of, but which might make you give this decision a bit of further thought:-

  1. If you’re proposing to transfer the house from joint names to just one party’s names, did you know that there are stamp duty implications?  If you try to do this, the Office of State Revenue will charge you stamp duty on half the value of the property, being the half that’s going from one person to the other.  If your house is worth $500,000.00, that’s going to cost you about $8,750.00.  If you have your agreement formalised by way of consent orders, you get an exemption from the payment of stamp duty.  If you come to us, we’ll charge you $990.00 to draft up all the documents you need to get consent orders made without going to court.  That’s a pretty big difference.
  2. If you’re proposing to split up one party’s superannuation, so that some of one party’s super goes into the other party’s account, you can’t just agree to that and ask the fund to sort it out.  They’ll want to see a court order which sets out how the superannuation split will be done, and in fact, they have to consent to that order being made.  There’s no point reaching an agreement about something like this if you then find you can’t get the super fund to implement it for you.  If you have your agreement about a superannuation split formalised by way of consent orders, the fund will sort out the split with no problems.  If you come to us, we’ll charge you $880.00 to get the super fund’s consent, and then draft up all the documents you’ll need to get consent orders made without going to court.  You’ve done the hard work by getting to an agreement.  Don’t let something like this get in the way of getting everything finalised smoothly and promptly.
  3. You’ve spent ages to-ing and fro-ing and you’ve finally been able to get to an agreement with your ex that you can both live with.  That’s the hardest part done.  If you don’t formalise your agreement, there is little to stop one of you coming back, maybe in a few years’ time and seeking a formalised property settlement.  The whole thing has to get reopened.  Any assets you’ve acquired post-separation are in the property pool and available for distribution between you.  Your previous agreement might be relevant, but there might be reasons why the court is happy to revisit everything that you thought already finalised your property settlement.  Formalising your property settlement finalises it.  Everyone knows where they stand.  Everyone gets to get on with their lives without wondering if assets they accumulate after separation will be divided again later on.  We can formalise, and finalise your property settlement for $990.00.  It’s worth considering for your peace of mind.
  4. You and your ex have worked hard and spent more hours than you remember working out an arrangement that you think will work well for your kids into the future.  Maybe you went to mediation and sorted it out that way.  You’re pretty amicable and you don’t believe that formalising your agreement is really necessary.  But what if things change?  What if you’re the one doing all the drop off’s and pick up’s and then your former partner goes and moves ten suburbs away?  What if your former partner re-partners and all of a sudden, they want to change the weekends around so that your kids spend time with the new partner’s kids?  What if your ex wants to move away with the kids?  It’s great when things are amicable and you’re working together, but sometimes things get in the way of that.  If you’ve had your agreement formalised into consent orders, then any changes to the orders have to be negotiated.  You’re going to get a say in that.  One party can’t just unilaterally change the orders and the kids’ routine without consulting you, like they can if it’s an agreement.  We can formalise the future care arrangements for your kids for $880.00.  Yours or the kids’ circumstances might still change in the future.  But any changes made to the orders as a result are made with your input.
  5. You’ve got your agreement and everything is going well.  You’ve divided up your property like you agreed you would and the kids are settling into the new routine.  What if something then arises that you didn’t think of?  What if a debt that you forgot about suddenly surfaces.  It’s in your name, but you both accumulated it.  Or you want to take the kids on an overseas holiday, but your agreement doesn’t cover that sort of thing.  When you get a lawyer to put together your agreement, they think of things like this.  They make sure that no assets or liabilities are left out or forgotten about.  They draw your attention to things that you might not have thought about, but which might arise down the track with your kids.  We can formalise an agreement for a property settlement or for the future care arrangements for your kids, all the while ensuring that nothing gets left behind or not considered.  We charge just $880.00 to draw up consent orders for either a property settlement or for future parenting arrangements (or $1,320.00 for both).  We think it’s the best price going around, but we know it’s a lot less expensive than having to get a lawyer involved if you’re having trouble trying to sort out things like this down the track.

So if this has given you a reason to re-think your decision not to formalise your agreement, you might want to take the next step and give us a call.  We can talk you through the process, confirm the price is what we’ve said it’s going to be here, and get you started.  If you’d like more information about our fixed fees, just click on the link.