DIY Consent Orders – Can it be Done?
Before answering the question as to whether you can prepare Consent Orders yourself, it is important to know what a Consent Order actually is and does.
A Consent Order is a document which formalises an agreement between parties with respect to parenting and or property settlement matters. It is binding and has the same affect as an Order made by a Judge following a Final Hearing. To obtain a Consent Order, particular forms need to be completed and filed with the Family Court of Australia. A Registrar of the Court will then review the documents and if the Court is satisfied that the agreement results in an outcome that is in the best interests of the Children or in terms of property settlement matters, a just and equitable outcome, the Orders will be approved and sealed Consent Orders will be issued.
The other option for formalising a property settlement agreement is a Binding Financial Agreement, which has been explained further in an earlier Blog, Consent Orders Vs Binding Financial Agreements (BFA’s). It is important to obtain legal advice as to the most appropriate document for your circumstances.
The following documents are filed in the Family Court of Australia to obtain a Consent Order:
- Application for Consent Orders, which details the background circumstances of the relationship, care and living arrangements of the Children (if any) and the financial circumstances of the parties;
- Minutes of Consent, which are the actual terms of agreement. It is this document that the Court places their seal upon and become the actual Orders;
- Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk of Family Violence (Application for Consent Orders), where disclosures have been made in the Application for Consent Orders regarding the Children being subjected to or at risk of being subjected to abuse or family violence.
There is no requirement to obtain legal advice prior to filing the documentation in Court, however, it is recommended. Despite this, it is noted that the signature of each party on the documentation, must be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or Solicitor.
There is a filing fee payable to the Court upon the filing of the documentation in Court for their approval. Currently this fee is $165.00.
Once filed, it usually takes up to four weeks for the Registrar of the Court to review your documentation, approve your agreement and issue sealed Orders. It is important to be aware that the terms of the Orders are not binding until the Registrar approves them and that either party may withdraw their consent at any time prior to this time. As such, any time frames referred to in the Orders commence from the date of the Orders being made.
If considering doing it yourself, you should obtain the Application for Consent Orders (do it yourself kit) on the Family Court of Australia website at http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/forms-and-fees/court-forms/diy-kits/kit-diy-application-consent-orders
We intend to prepare a future Blog regarding Parenting Consent Orders specifically and the common pitfalls from our experience, in addition to a similar Blog regarding Property Consent Orders.
So, in answer to our question, do it yourself Consent Orders can be done, but please be aware that Consent Orders are not appropriate in all circumstances. It is for this reason that we recommend that you at least obtain some preliminary advices from a Family Lawyer so you know where you stand, what your rights and obligations may be and to set you on the right pathway generally.
Should you wish to discuss your matter with one of our Gold Coast Family Lawyers, please give our office a call on (07) 5679 8016 for a free fifteen minute telephone chat.