By Carlos Turini – Accredited Family Law Specialist
Once parties reach a settlement for a family law property settlement, they must take steps to make the agreement legal. One popular way to do that is for the parties to enter into consent orders and to file with the Court:
- An Application for Consent Orders form; and
- The Consent Orders. 
The Application for Consent Orders is a lengthy form (77 paragraphs) requiring detailed financial information. The parties must sign a declaration as to the truth of the information at the end of the Application.
Some people find the Application form to be difficult to complete and overwhelming – see an example at Application for consent orders (do it yourself kit).
The Application and the Consent orders are read by a registrar of the court before making the Orders. To become satisfied that the Orders should be made, the registrar will inform himself/herself about the agreement from the financial information in the Application for Consent Orders. Therefore, it is an important form that needs to be completed properly.
Parties involved in a family law dispute are required to make full and frank disclosure to the other about all relevant aspects of their dispute. In relation to a property settlement, the parties must make full and frank disclosure of all relevant financial information. This is known as the “discovery” process. In addition, each party should obtain information as to the value of assets (for example by engaging licensed valuers or real estate agents and superannuation entitlements experts) and up to date information about liabilities.
The registrar will not require evidence as to the agreed value of assets or liabilities. In some cases, he/she will require evidence as to the value of superannuation entitlements.
As a general observation, the Application for Consent Orders could be divided into two parts:
- Up to and including Paragraph 67, it requires the core information, including background information about the parties and their children and also detailed financial information;
- From Paragraph 68 onward, it requires information which explains the agreement.
When instructed by clients to assist to draft the Application for Consent Orders and Consent Orders, after completing the discovery process, normally I ask the clients to complete the first part of the Application for Consent Orders form themselves up to and including Paragraph 67 and I complete the second part.
I dedicate appropriate time to settle the whole document properly and ensure that the Application clearly explains the settlement. I approach the task of including all information appropriately with a view to what the registrar requires to know. Ultimately, I aim to ensure that the process is completed smoothly. When the job is done well the registrar will have no need to raise questions or requisitions which will delay the Court issuing the Consent Orders.
The registrar will need to be satisfied that the agreement is fair and equitable. In the process of interpreting the agreement, when completing the second part of the Application for Consent Orders form from Paragraph 68 onwards, I take the opportunity to explain the reasons why the parties consider that their agreement is fair and equitable.
The Elringtons Family Law Team has experienced family law solicitors who are available to speak with you about your family law matter and guide you through the family law process.
For more information, contact Carlos Turini
- see also article – How to make a Family Law Property Settlement Legal: Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement?