Separation from a partner can be an incredibly challenging and stressful time. In addition to the emotional stress of the breakdown of a relationship, additional financial and legal implications follow suit. Parenting disputes such as the care and living arrangements of your children is a significant matter that arises in such a time, which involves consent orders in family law.
The purpose of this article is to provide some clarity on consent orders in family law, namely orders that the focus matter Is children’s living arrangements and parent’s responsibilities for the care of their child.
What Are Consent Orders in Family Law?
Consent orders are written agreements approved by a court. In the scope of consent orders for family law, consent orders deal with matters such as parenting arrangements for children, whereby anyone concerned with the care, welfare and development of a child may apply for parenting orders.
Children’s orders or parenting orders may include details regarding:
- The parent who will have parental responsibility for the children
- Who the children will spend their time with and when
- The location and times for changeovers
- Agreements such as both parents not speaking negatively about the other parent around their children
- Whether the children may travel overseas
What Does the Law Consider?
The legal effect of consent orders is as if a judicial officer had made them after a court hearing. The court must be satisfied the orders you are seeking are in the best interests of the child. Accordingly, Parents are encouraged to contemplate this as a guiding principle when considering their parenting plans.
For consent orders regarding parenting, the focus of the Family Law Act is on the rights and responsibilities that each parent has towards their children, rather than parental rights. The goal is to ensure that the children are protected from harm, and further can enjoy a meaningful relationship with both of their parents.
There is a presumption in family law that parenting arrangements will be equal and shared amongst both parents as this is in the child’s best interests according to s61DA of the Family Law Act. This means that both parents must make a genuine effort to consult and cooperate with the other parent when deciding on major long-term issues about the child. For instance, if a parent wishes to change the child’s school, they must discuss this with the other parent before acting.
Before an application for consent orders in family law is made to the court to determine parental responsibility, parents must typically engage in a mediation session to resolve the matter.
This presumption does not apply if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child’s parent has engaged in child abuse or another member of the family or family violence. The court will also typically allow applications to be made to the court without mediation in these circumstances.
What Should You Consider?
It is essential you under the effect of the orders you are seeking. So it is highly recommended you obtain independent legal advice about the impact and consequences of the order you propose.
If you seek orders concerning your children’s care, you should familiarise yourself with sections 60B, 60CA, 60CC, 61DA and 65DAA of the Family Law Act.
Why You Need a Consent Order in Family Law?
There is no legal requirement to make a consent order following a separation. Parents are within their rights to make informal agreements amongst themselves regarding the care of their children, and arrangements such as the abovementioned.
However, the issue with this approach is the lack of legal requirements to abide by the agreement. Accordingly, either parent may at any time cease compliance or even apply to the court seeking an arrangement utterly different to what was previously agreed to. Hence, consent orders in family law are vital to prevent either party from taking any further legal action against the other in the future.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
If not handled properly, consent orders will significantly impact the lives of both the parents and, most notably, the children and their development and emotional well-being. This is why it is so important when discussing family law consent orders to fully understand the nature and effect of the consent orders you seek or are being sought by your former partner.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way. With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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