For many recently separated people, Consent Orders are the preferred way to reach an agreement regarding care arrangements for their children. Consent Orders can also deal with the division of property and spousal maintenance. Once you and your ex-partner reach an agreement about each of these matters (with or without the support of professional mediation or Family Lawyers) you can lodge an Application for Consent Orders with the Family Court without actually having to go to Court.
Consent Orders have the same legal effect as an order made after a Court hearing. Although you are not required to seek independent legal advice when applying for Consent Orders, it may benefit you, especially if your family or financial affairs are complicated. If you and your ex are unable to reach an agreement, even after professional mediation, and the matter goes to Court, you may both obtain legal representation. The time and complexity of going to Court will usually be more significant, and this will have an impact on costs.
What legal matters do Consent Orders cover?
Consent Orders cover two main categories of agreement:
Parenting Orders: matters such as who the children will live with; how much and where they spend time with the other parent and other people; who has parental responsibility for the children (such as who chooses what sport they play); who takes them to school, what medical treatments occur, and what religion they follow.
Financial Orders: matters such as financial support for a former husband, wife or defacto partner; and how financial assets and liabilities should be shared between you, including property, financial resources and superannuation, although in Western Australia defacto partners cannot obtain orders to split superannuation.
People are sometimes tempted to transfer or hide assets from their soon-to-be-ex, on the basis that they will benefit from Financial Orders made in ignorance of these assets. This is unwise.
Forensic accounting is likely to reveal such assets. If this occurs after Consent Orders have already been made, those Orders can be set aside, and the concealer could suffer financial consequences including having to pay the other party’s legal costs. In short: it’s just not worth the risk.
How close are you and your ex to agreeing on parenting and financial matters?
Are you confident you can agree on the main issues, or would you benefit from professional mediation or independent legal advice?
How complicated are your family and financial matters? For example, do you have joint investment properties, a Self Managed Superannuation Fund, or assets in different countries? Greater complexity suggests you should seek legal advice.
If children are not involved, would a Financial Agreement offer a preferable alternative as a means of formalising how assets will be divided?
Our team of experienced, professional, Perth Family Lawyers are here to help with your consent orders. Phone us for a 15-minute consultation on (08) 9486 9733.