Elevate Family Law

Consent Orders in Australia: A quick reference guide

Wills & Estates Lawyer

Table of Contents

What is a ‘Consent Order’?

A common question that comes up in our dealings with clients is understanding the meaning of a consent order in family law.

Once parties reach an agreement regarding their parenting and/or property matters, be it between themselves or with the assistance of family lawyers, they can formalise their agreement by asking the Court to make legally binding Orders.

 As the Orders are made by the Court with the consent of both parties, they are known as ‘Consent Orders’.

Why do you need consent orders? Are they legally binding?

If you and your former partner have reached an agreement, there are risks associated with this agreement remaining informal.

For example, one party might later try to alter what was agreed upon whereas once Consent Orders are made by the Court, they are legally binding.

How do I apply for Consent Orders?

You or your lawyer will need to prepare two documents.

These are: 

  1. Application for Consent Orders Form; and
  2. Application for Consent Orders – Proposed Orders.

In both documents, the person who will be filing the Application and paying the filing fee should be listed as the Applicant.

The first document is essentially a questionnaire where you answer questions about yourself, the other party, your relationship and your children (if any), as well as questions specific to whether you are seeking parenting or property Orders.

For example, if you are seeking parenting Orders, you will need to outline your proposed arrangements for the children in terms of housing, supervision, health, education, and financial support.

If you are seeking property Orders, you will each need to provide details of your finances such as your respective incomes, assets, liabilities, and superannuation.

You can access the Application for Consent Orders form here: Application for Consent forms.

The second document sets out the Orders that you are asking the Court to make. It is important that you understand the Orders you are seeking.
Even if you have decided to make your application without the assistance of a lawyer, we suggest you obtain independent legal advice about the effect and consequences of the Orders you are seeking.

Once the documents have been prepared and signed by both parties, and their legal representatives, if applicable, they need to be filed at Court. This is done electronically using the Commonwealth Courts Portal.

You go to the Portal and select ‘Start New File’ and complete the online form. You will then need to upload your Application for Consent Orders Form and Proposed Orders. 

Depending on the Orders you are seeking, you may need to upload other documents. For example, if you are seeking parenting orders, you will need to complete and file a ‘Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk’.

legally binding consent orders

What Orders can I seek?

A pertinent question is getting clarity on what sort of consent orders you can seek.
You can seek Orders in relation to:

    • How matrimonial property is to be divided between you
    • Arrangements for the children and spousal maintenance.
    • You can also apply for parenting and property Orders in the one Application.

The Orders you seek are very much dependent on your circumstances and what you and your former partner are hoping to achieve.

Consent Orders Examples:

An example of a parenting consent Order might be:
That the children live with the Mother and spend time with the Father each alternate weekend from 3pm on Friday until 9am on Monday.

An example of a property consent Order might be:

That within 30 days of making these Orders and simultaneously,

  1.  The Husband do all such acts and things and sign all documents necessary to transfer all of his right, title and interest in the property known and situated at 123 Smith Street to the Wife;
  2.  The husband and wife do all such acts and things and sign all documents necessary to refinance the mortgage associated with the Smith Street property into the Wife’s sole name and thereafter, the Wife shall indemnify the Husband and keep him indemnified in relation to the said mortgage; and
  3.  the Wife pay to the Husband the sum of $80,000.”

How much does A Consent Order cost Australia?

There is a filing fee associated with making an Application for Consent Orders, unless you are eligible for an exemption.

 To find out if you are eligible for an exemption: Guidelines for exemption.

If you are eligible for an exemption, you will need to provide documentary evidence when filing your application.

The fee, which is set by Federal Government Regulations, namely the Family Law (Fees) Regulation 2012 and is payable at the time of filing, can be found here, Family Law Court Fees.

What happens after I have filed my documents with the Court?

Once the Application for Consent Orders and proposed Consent Orders have been filed, they will be processed and allocated to a Registrar for a Consent Orders Hearing.

This Hearing takes place behind the scenes, in Chambers and neither of the parties, nor their legal representatives (if any) attend.
During the ‘Hearing’, the Registrar will consider the Orders sought and decide whether the Orders are in the best interests of the child/children in parenting matters and/or just and equitable in property matters.

If the Orders are approved by the Registrar, the outcome will be recorded on the Commonwealth Courts Portal and sealed Orders will made available for you to download.

Once approved, the Orders become enforceable, like any other Court Order, and must be followed.

Another common question on the topic on consent orders is “Do consent orders expire?” Consent Orders do not expire unless an expiry date is stipulated in the Consent Orders.

If the Orders are not approved, you will be notified. If this occurs, we suggest you obtain legal advice.

Consent Order Application Process

application for consent orders process

How long do consent orders take to process in Australia?

Whilst it is subject to the number of Applications being filed, you can generally expect your Application to be reviewed and approved and sealed Orders issued approximately 6 weeks after you filed your documents with the Court.

Getting Assistance

If you need help in drafting and obtaining equitable consent orders for your matter, contact our team today!