What are consent orders If both parties have reached agreement about parenting and/or financial/property arrangements and want to formalise the agreement to make it legally binding, you can apply for consent orders. Consent orders can also be used to vary or discharge existing family law orders. Please read the following information in relation to parenting and finances and property before you proceed. The Court will consider the consent orders sought taking into consideration whether parenting orders are in the best interests of the children and/or financial/property orders are just and equitable. Seeking legal advice It is advisable to obtain legal advice before making a decision about what to do or before applying to the courts. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. The court is unable to provide legal advice to people with family relationship issues. To do so could seriously compromise the court's ability to impartially determine a case if a person then applies to the court seeking orders. Where can I obtain free legal advice? The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anybody with family relationship issues - call 1800 050 321 or +61 7 3423 6878 if you are overseas. You should advise FRAL that you are seeking legal advice and they will take your details and a lawyer will call you back. The will advise you of a timeframe on the call back, you should advise if it is urgent. Alternatively, the Australian government funds a range of legal assistance services that may be able to assist you, including Legal Aid Commissions and individual Community Legal Centres, which offer free and low cost advice. Information to assist with finding legal services is available. Can the Court refer me to a private lawyer? The Court is unable to refer you to a private lawyer. If you are looking for a private lawyer who deals with family law matters, a law society in your state or territory may be able to help. See Legal help. Are there any time restrictions in filing consent orders for financial orders? An Application for Consent Orders can be filed any time after separation but should to be filed within 12 months of a divorce or two years since the end of a de facto relationship. If you are filing beyond this time frame, you will need to seek leave of the Court to file the application. You can do this by seeking permission as the first order sought. What you need to consider It is important that you understand the meaning and effect of the orders you are seeking. Even if you have decided to make your application without the help of a lawyer, you should obtain independent legal advice about the effect and consequences of the order you propose. If you are seeking orders concerning children you should read and consider sections 60B, 60CA, 60CC, 61DA and 65DAA of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking financial orders in relation to a marriage, you should read and consider sections 75 and 79 and Part VIIIB of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking financial orders as a party to a de facto relationship which has broken down, you should read and consider sections 90SK, 90SL, 90SM and Part VIIIAB of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking an order or injunction binding a third party you should read and consider Part VIIIAA and if a party to a de facto relationship, you should also read and consider section 90TA of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking spouse maintenance orders, you should read and consider sections 72, 74 and 75 of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking de facto partner maintenance orders, you should read and consider sections 90SB, 90SD, 90SE and 90SF of the Family Law Act. If you are seeking orders for financial settlement or maintenance and more than 12 months has lapsed since your divorce became final, or two years since the end of a de facto relationship, you should read and consider section 44 of the Family Law Act. If you are filing beyond this time frame, you must consent to the Court making the proposed property and maintenance orders or you will need to seek leave of the Court to file the application. All of these sections and Parts of the Family Law Act can be accessed at www.legislation.gov.au. Setting out your orders The orders you seek concerning your children, finances and property, spouse or de facto partner maintenance will depend on the circumstances of your family. You should seek legal advice about what orders to apply for. Generally, Consent Orders that can be made by a court fall into two categories – parenting orders and financial orders. NOTE: parenting and financial orders can be sought in the same application. Set out each order sought in a separate paragraph and number each paragraph. Each page should be signed by each party and dated. Use the template provided by the Court as a guide to setting out the proposed orders. Select the relevant categories below for more information: Parenting orders These include orders relating to: The person with whom the child lives – including any shared arrangements. The times that a child may spend with – a parent with whom they are not living, or anyone else who plays an important part in their life, such as a grandparent and can be either face-to-face, or by phone, email or letters. Child maintenance – for children not covered by the Child Support (Assessment) Act. If you are unsure contact the Child Support Agency. Any other aspect of parental responsibility – this may include the day-to-day care, welfare and development of a child, religion, education and sport. For help with the wording required when seeking parenting orders see the Parenting orders – what you need to know brochure. Financial orders These include orders relating to: Spouse maintenance – financial support for a party to a marriage or former party to a marriage. De facto partner maintenance – financial support for a party to a de facto relationship which has broken down (provided the requirements of section 90DK are met). Property – how your property, superannuation, financial resources and liabilities should be shared between you (in the case of a de facto relationship which has broken down, provided the requirements section 90SK are met). Superannuation There are special requirements where you are making an application for orders for property settlement and either party has a superannuation interest. If you are seeking a splitting order in relation to a superannuation interest in accordance with Section 90XT of the Family Law Act: You must attach proof of value in relation to that superannuation interest. You must calculate the value of the superannuation interest and if the Family Law (Superannuation) Regulations 2001 provide a method for calculating the value then that method must be used. You must consider the taxation consequences of the order. Where a base amount is allocated then that amount cannot exceed the value of the interest (see Section 90XT(4)). If you are seeking an order that imposes an obligation on the Trustee of the superannuation plan you must satisfy the Court that the Trustee has been accorded procedural fairness in relation to the making of the order. De facto relationship jurisdiction – financial causes There are special requirements where you are making an application for orders for maintenance and/or property settlement as a party to a de facto relationship. You must complete the part of the application that establishes that you are entitled to apply and meet certain geographical requirements. For more information see De facto relationships. If your de facto relationship broke down more than two years before the date of filing this application, you should read and consider section 44 of the Family Law Act. If you are filing beyond this time frame, you must consent to the Court making the proposed property and maintenance orders or you will need to seek leave of the Court to file the application. Other documents you may need to file You must also file a copy of the certificate of registration of de facto relationship or other proof (if you were a party to a de facto relationship which is registered under a prescribed law of a state or territory and are seeking financial or de facto partner maintenance orders). Orders you cannot seek using an Application for consent orders Child maintenance for children covered by the Child Support (Assessment) Act, that is, those under 18 who were born after 1 October 1989 or whose parents separated after that date—this is handled by the Child Support Agency which can be contacted on 131 272 for the cost of a local call. Declarations about the existence of a de facto relationship. Medical procedures. Orders under cross vesting laws. A parenting order in favour of a person who is not a parent, grandparent or other relative under Section 65G of the Family Law Act. You should seek legal advice before proceeding any further with any of these types of applications. Filing an application with the Court You should electronically file (eFile) applications on the Commonwealth Courts Portal. The Portal allows you, within a secure website, to access your court file, eFile a range of documents online 24/7. The person who lodges the Application for consent orders and pays the filing fee should be listed as the applicant on the application. If for any reason you cannot eFile the application click on Unable to eFile below. eFile your application For help with registration and a step by step guide go to How do I eFile? Go to the Commonwealth Courts Portal and select Start a new file. Complete the online form. You will need to upload the following documents: Application for consent orders Proposed orders template (this template contains the proforma for the proposed orders. If you are seeking parenting orders you should also read the fact sheet Parenting Orders – obligations, consequences and who can help If seeking parenting orders - Notice of child abuse, family violence or risk If seeking superannuation orders: Proof of value (latest member statement). Payment flag order/agreement A copy of the orders if the application seeks to vary or discharge an existing order. A de facto registration certificate (if applicable). NOTE: parenting and financial orders can be sought in the same application. Unable to eFile Follow the instructions on the Application for consent orders kit to help you file your application. You will need to file the original plus a copy for any party of the following at a court registry: Application for consent orders Proposed orders template (this template contains the proforma for the proposed orders. If you are seeking parenting orders you should also read the fact sheet Parenting Orders – obligations, consequences and who can help. If seeking parenting orders - Notice of child abuse, family violence or risk If seeking superannuation orders: Proof of value (latest member statement). Payment flag order/agreement A copy of the orders if the application seeks to vary or discharge an existing order. A de facto registration certificate (if applicable). NOTE: parenting and financial orders can be sought in the same application. Filing fees and exemption of fees You will be required to pay a filing fee unless you are eligible for an exemption. For fees information go to Fees. Depending on what type of orders you seek will depend on the amount of fees. Fees are payable at the time of filing. If you electronically file the application you will be required to pay the filing fee by credit/debit card (visa/mastercard) when you complete the application. If you file the application at a court registry you will need to pay the filing fee at the same time. Go to Making payments to the courts for more information. If you do not hold a credit or debit card you can purchase a temporary debit card at Australia Post or retail outlets for one time use. To find out if you are eligible for an exemption of fees refer to the Guidelines for fee exemption. If you are eligible for an exemption you will be required to provide documentary evidence e.g. health care card when you file the application. If you electronically file you will be asked to confirm you are eligible in Part 1 of the application and to upload the documentary evidence at Part 2. If you are unable to electronically file you must file the Application for exemption from fees – General together with the documentary evidence e.g. both sides of your health care card with the Initiating application. If you are not eligible, but paying the fee will cause you financial hardship you can apply for an exemption due to financial hardship. If you electronically file you will be asked to confirm you are eligible in Part 1 of the application and to upload the Application for exemption from fees – Financial hardship at Part 2. If you are unable to electronically file you must file the Application for exemption from Fees – Financial hardship with the Initiating application. What will happen after I have filed documents with the Court? If you eFile an Application for consent orders, you will be able to go into the portal and print a sealed copy for your record. If you lodge an application for consent orders with a registry, sealed copies of the application will be available on the Commonwealth Courts Portal once the documents are accepted for filing. You will be notified by email once the application has been filed and provided with the file number. If you are not registered on the portal, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org once you have received notification that the documents have been filed and provide your full name, date of birth, name of the other party and the file number, so your registration can be enabled. Each party should have their own portal registration. The application will be considered and if orders are made, sealed orders will become available on the portal to download. If the court declines to make the orders you will be notified and you should obtain legal advice. If you wish to follow up on the consent orders application you can email the Court directly where the application was filed. All court registries have a generic email addresses. Type the name of the registry where your matter is being heard then @fcfcoa.gov.au (an example is email@example.com). When you contact a registry you should provide your full name, date of birth, the name of the other party and your file number (if known). To download the application from the portal once it is filed, go Documents Filed Click on the PDF icon to download and print out a sealed copy for your records, if required.