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Gold Coast Legal Advice for Consent Orders

Separation is always difficult – especially when you have to come to agreements about property and children.

If you can’t find common ground with your partner about parenting or finances, a consent order can help you move forward in a just, equitable way that protects your children.

As the oldest law firm on the Gold Coast, Bell Legal Group has been helping couples and parents navigate separation since 1955.

We know how to represent your interests to the Court in the right way – and we understand the long-term complexities that come with separation and children.

Find out how our expert family lawyers can help you move on from your relationship in the right way.

What Is a Consent Order?

A consent order is a legally binding directive handed down by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.

It’s used to formalise agreements between couples who have separated about parenting and financial matters.  

Both divorced (previously married) and separated (previously de facto) parties can seek consent orders. 

What Are the Benefits of a Consent Order?

Unlike other types of agreements about parenting and financial matters, consent orders are made by the Court.

That means they’re impartial – parenting orders are made in the best interests of the child, and financial orders are designed to be just and equitable for both parties.

Consent orders are also legally binding.

Unlike a parenting agreement, there are legal consequences for ignoring or breaching a consent order, including fines and jail time.

Consent Order FAQs

Parenting Orders

Parenting orders cover:

  • Who your child or children live with
  • Who your child or children can spend time with
  • Who financially supports your child
  • Other aspects of parental responsibility, like education, religion, sport, and day-to-day care

Financial Orders

Financial orders cover:

  • The financial support you provide for your ex-partner (or vice versa)
  • How property, superannuation, financial resources, and liabilities should be divided between you and your ex-partner

Applying for a Consent Order

Before you apply for a consent order, make sure you get advice from an experienced family lawyer. 

They can talk you through the long-term implications of a consent order and help you navigate the application process. When you’re ready, you can file an application for a consent order through your lawyer, online via the Commonwealth Courts Portal, or in person at an FCFCOA registry. 

To maximise your chances of a successful application, get your family lawyer to help you fill out the forms. 

They know what information should be included, and can help you word your statements and proposed orders in the right way. 

Changing a Consent Order

If your situation has changed significantly from the time a consent order was first filed (for example, if you lost your job or moved to a different state), you can apply to the court to vary or discharge a consent order. 

You can also change a consent order if both you and your ex-partner mutually agree on the change.

This normally only applies to parenting orders – the Court will only change a financial order under specific circumstances (such as if you or your ex-partner did not disclose financial matters fully or committed fraud in your submissions to the Court).

Consent Order FAQs

Yes, consent orders are legally binding in Queensland. You should always seek advice from an experienced family lawyer before applying for a consent order.

If you breach a consent order without a valid reason, the Court may order you to engage in parenting programs, change the order, fine you, or even jail you.

The purpose of a consent order is to make sure you and your ex-partner can move forward with your lives in a fair way. Because they’re legally binding and made by an independent court officer, they can be a good way to make sure that you receive what you’re entitled to during a separation. 

Keep in mind that parenting orders are always made in the best interests of your children – your and your partner’s interests always come second.

No, consent orders aren’t always necessary. 

If you have a good relationship with your ex-partner, you can make an informal parenting plan with them.  A parenting plan can be any written and dated document, signed by you and your ex-partner, that outlines your respective rights and responsibilities regarding your children. It isn’t valid if your partner threatens or coerces you to create it. 

A parenting plan isn’t legally binding, but, if you do break it, your ex-partner can take you to court – the Court may take the fact you breached the agreement in the plan into account when it hands down a consent order. 

As of 1 July 2023, lodging a consent order in Queensland costs $195.

A parenting plan is not ‘better’ than a consent order, but it is easier to create and amend.  You can also find a middle ground that works for both you and your ex-partner, which might not be the case if the Court makes a consent order.

On the other hand, a parenting plan is not legally binding. This means that your ex-partner won’t be held legally accountable if they break it but, if you go to Court later, the Court will take the plan into account as to what had been agreed previously. 

A consent order can only be breached if you have a reasonable excuse. Reasonable excuses include:

  • If you breached the order to protect someone’s health or safety
  • If you didn’t understand that you were breaching the order

If the Court finds you didn’t have a reasonable excuse for breaching your consent order, it can:

  • Order you to participate in a parenting program
  • Compensate the other parent with extra time
  • Make a costs order against you so you pay the other parent’s legal costs
  • Change the existing order (often in favour of your ex-partner)

If you commit multiple breaches or the Court thinks you’re ignoring the order, it can:

  • Order you to pay any expenses incurred by the breach
  • Order you to pay some or all of your ex-partner’s legal expenses
  • Order you to participate in community work
  • Impose a bond for up to two years
  • Fine you
  • Impose a jail sentence of up to 12 months

If you’ve breached an order (or you think your ex-partner has), talk to an experienced family lawyer about your options.

Move forward with expert legal advice.

Get support for your consent order from the oldest family law firm on the Gold Coast.

Speak To A Family Lawyer