Divorced parties or de facto partners don’t always have to go to court to settle their differences. On the contrary, the Family Law Act 1975 encourages parties to enter into agreements that would ensure their rights and provides for their needs and that of their children.
These agreements are private and are not legally enforceable. To make an agreement binding upon the parties it is recommended that they apply for consent orders from the court based on what has been agreed upon.
Consent order is a written agreement executed between the parties upon which the court bases the issuance of an order. So a consent order will only reflect what the parties have already agreed upon. The parties may apply for consent orders on parenting and financial arrangements.
For the parenting orders the parties may specify arrangements such as: whether each of the parties will have equal time with the child or substantial and significant time; child maintenance in case the child is not covered by the Child Support (Assessment) Act; contact with relevant persons in the child’s life like grandparents or other relatives; and any other arrangement that caters to the care, welfare and development of a child. As for the financial arrangements, the parties may agree on spouse maintenance and property division.
The advantage with consent orders is that the parties do not go through a hearing anymore with the judicial officer. The only requirements of the court are that the parenting arrangements must be in the best interest of the child and the financial arrangements are just and equitable for both parties. Once a consent order is issued by the court the parties are required to comply, otherwise they will be subjected to penalties.
It is very simple to ask for consent orders from the court. An application for consent orders may be initiated by filling up the application form and indicating the arrangements made by the parties. The form must then be filed with the family registry and filing fees paid unless the parties are exempted from paying the fees.