Whilst the Family Court of Western Australia (“the Family Court”) is often the arena of choice for sparring spouses, the Family Court also holds a very important role in assisting amicable couples finalise agreements by consent.
In fact, the Family Court much prefers to assist agreeable parties finalise their property and/or parenting matters rather than adjudicate over those parties warring with one another.
When both you and your ex have reached an agreement concerning your family law matters, you have the option of applying for what are known as consent orders.
Consent orders have exactly the same effect as those orders obtained through years of acrimonious and costly proceedings. As the name suggests, consent orders are simply the orders the Family Court make based on the agreement you have already reached with your ex. These orders can be concerning both property and/or parenting matters.
The Court will make orders between married couples, divorced couples and separated de facto couples (whether in a same or different sex relationship). The Court will even make orders between the parents of a child whose parents have never lived together.
What are the benefits of consent orders?
Consent orders come at a fraction of the cost compared with those orders made by the Court at the end of or during a dispute. Consent orders can also be obtained in a relatively timely manner. A final trial in the Family Court can take approximately 3 years and cost each party over $100,000 in legal fees. Alternatively, consent orders can be finalised within a matter of weeks and cost as little as $5,000 for both parties.
There is also no requirement for you or your ex to attend the Family Court at any time during the process of obtaining consent orders. Consent orders are often deliberated over by a Registrar in chambers- that is, in private without the parties or their lawyers present.
Should they choose, neither party even need engage a lawyer in obtaining consent orders. However, we often recommend that at least one party engage a lawyer to assist with the formal application process.
Consent orders in respect of property matters also provide parties with a stamp duty exemption on the transfer or sale of real property. This exemption can save parties upwards of $10,000, that would ordinarily need to be paid upfront to secure a financial settlement.
Lastly, obtaining any kind of court orders also provide parties with a true sense of finality. Once orders are made by the Family Court either by consent or otherwise, it can difficult for those orders to be altered or set aside without good reason.
Buyers’ remorse is no excuse once the Family Court has made orders!
How do I apply for consent orders?
Parties may apply for consent orders by preparing and submitting a Form 11 Application for Consent Orders (“Form 11”). Included within the Form 11 must be a copy of the orders you are seeking, also known as a minute of consent orders.
Drafting these orders and the Form 11 can be difficult for self-represented parties. For this reason, we encourage that you engage a lawyer to assist with this process. We regularly assist parties as the only lawyers on board! Whilst we are limited to representing only one party, we have experience amicably negotiating and communicating with self-represented parties.
If you think consent orders might be the way for you to formalise your family law matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to us here at Lynn & Brown.
About the Author: Jasmine Trewin is a family lawyer who has completed both a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Journalism). Jasmine spent time working at the Federal Court of Australia before joining Lynn & Brown Lawyers in August 2021.