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    Consent Orders in Australia: Everything You Need to Know 1024 664 Dorter

    Consent Orders in Australia: Everything You Need to Know

    Separation or divorce can be a stressful and emotionally challenging experience for couples, especially when they have to make decisions about property division and parenting arrangements. One way to formalise these agreements and make them legally binding is through a consent order.

    Consent orders are a legal tool that separated couples can use to protect themselves and their families. This article will answer some common questions about consent orders in Australia, including how to obtain them, what they can be used for, and their advantages and limitations.

    What is a Consent Order?

    When a couple separates, they must make decisions about property and parenting arrangements. These decisions can be made privately between the parties by agreement, or through the court. Informal agreements are not legally binding, which means that the parties may have no legal recourse if one of them does not comply with the agreement or changes their mind later.

    A consent order is a legal document that formalises the agreement reached between the parties. This makes the agreement legally binding, meaning that both parties have legal protection if either of them does not comply with the terms of the agreement.

    What Are Consent Orders For?

    Consent orders can be made for parenting and property settlement matters, which are typically the most common issues that separated couples need to resolve.

    Parenting arrangements can include custody, access or ‘time with’ arrangements, and communication, while property settlement consent orders can cover the division of assets, such as real estate, investments, and personal property, as well as superannuation and spousal maintenance.

    It’s important to note that consent orders can only be made for matters falling under the jurisdiction of the Family Law legislation. Consent Orders require the approval of the Court before the agreement is enforceable as an Order. The Court requires that the agreement reached between the parties is fair and equitable (in accordance with the legislation and case law) before approving a consent order.

    Other legal matters, such as child support or divorce, require separate applications, and seeking legal advice from an expert family lawyer can ensure that your rights and interests are protected.

    How to Obtain a Consent Order

    Here are the step-by-step instructions for obtaining a consent order in Australia:

    1. Reach an agreement: Before applying for a consent order, the parties must first reach an agreement on certain issues. This can be done through negotiation, mediation, or other dispute-resolution methods.
    2. Prepare the application: Once an agreement is reached, the parties must prepare an Application for Consent Orders. This application includes proposed consent orders, being the terms of the agreement, and supporting information that are required by the Court to assess the reasonableness of the agreement.
    3. Lodge the application: The application must be lodged with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The Court will then review the application and assess the agreement to ensure that it is fair and equitable.
    4. Decision by Court: If the Court is satisfied with the agreement, the Court will generally make the consent orders.
    5. Receive the order: Once the consent orders are made, both parties will receive a copy of the orders. The orders become legally binding and enforceable at this time.

    The process of obtaining a consent order normally takes a few weeks and in some rare cases months, depending on the complexity of the agreement and the Court’s workload.

    Can an Application for a Consent Order be Rejected?

    In some cases, the Court may reject an application for consent orders. This could happen if the agreement reached between the parties is not deemed fair or reasonable, or if it’s not in the best interests of any children involved. Additionally, if the documents filed are incomplete or incorrect, the court may reject or requisition the application.

    If an application is rejected, parties can work to revise the agreement and re-apply for a consent order. However, it’s always best to ensure that the agreement reached is fair and reasonable before submitting an application to the court. Seeking the advice of a family law professional can help ensure that the application is submitted correctly, increase the likelihood of its approval, and reduce the risk of any delay.

    Does a Consent Order Expire?

    A consent order does not have an expiry date, which means it remains legally enforceable until it is varied or set aside by the Court. However, it’s important to note that there are limited circumstances in which a consent order can be altered or set aside. Some examples include if there has been a significant change in circumstances, fraud, or duress.

    . If you believe there has been a significant change in circumstances, fraud, duress, or some other reason that warrants a variation or termination of a consent order, you should seek legal advice.

    What Happens if a Consent Order is Breached?

    If a party breaches a consent order, the other party can take legal action to enforce the order. Breaching a consent order can result in serious legal consequences such as fines, or other penalties. In extreme cases, a person found to have breached an Order can be ordered to serve a term of imprisonment.

    If you suspect that a consent order has been breached, you should seek legal advice immediately to determine the best course of action. In some cases, it may be appropriate to negotiate with the other party to resolve the issue. In other cases, legal action may be necessary to enforce the order or seek compensation for any losses incurred.

    If there are changes in circumstances that make it difficult for you to comply with the terms of the consent order, it’s highly recommended that you seek legal advice before applying to make any changes to the order or breaching the Order. This can prevent potential legal consequences and ensure that the agreement remains fair and reasonable for all parties involved.

    How Can a Lawyer Help with Consent Orders?

    Applying for consent orders can be a complex and sometimes daunting process. Seeking the help of an expert family lawyer can ensure that the process is as smooth as possible. A family lawyer can offer legal advice on the agreement, ensuring that it is fair and equitable, and help clients to understand their legal rights and obligations.

    Lawyers can also assist in the preparation of the necessary documents and filing of the application with the Court. They can communicate with the Court on behalf of their client, and if needed, represent their client in Court proceedings.

    In addition, if a consent order has been breached, a lawyer can advise on the available legal remedies and represent their client in court proceedings to enforce the order or seek variations. A lawyer can also assist in negotiating a new agreement or variation to a consent order.

    Consent Orders: Move Forward with Confidence

    Separation and divorce can be emotionally challenging, but consent orders provide a practical and beneficial way for parties to reach agreements on parenting and property settlement matters. Although obtaining a consent order is not mandatory in Australia, it is strongly recommended because it offers legal protection and enforceability of the terms of the agreement, providing peace of mind for both parties.

    In addition to offering legal protection, seeking legal advice can help ensure that the agreement is fair and reasonable, and that the necessary paperwork is correctly prepared and submitted, and will be approved by the Court. With the assistance of a family lawyer, clients can navigate the process of applying for a consent order and move forward with confidence.

    Ultimately, consent orders provide a useful tool for resolving disputes in separation and divorce. By obtaining consent orders, parties can ensure that their agreement is legally binding and enforceable, providing them with greater certainty and security for the future.

    If you need legal advice regarding an agreement with a former partner, you can contact us at Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators. Our firm is well-versed in negotiating and preparing consent orders and various agreements that may need to be made as part of a separation.

    Call us today on 02 9929 8840 or book a consultation online here.

    Separated Under One Roof? What You Need to Know 1024 688 Dorter

    Separated Under One Roof? What You Need to Know


    • Separated couples may choose to live together due to financial, convenience, co-parenting, lack of alternative housing, emotional attachment, or cultural and religious reasons.
    • It’s possible to be legally separated while living together. However, you may need to prove that you and your partner have already separated and representing to other and to third parties that this is the case.
    • Evidence of separation, such as affidavits, witness statements, financial records, utility bills, photos or videos, and other evidence, may be required to get a divorce while living together.
    • Seeking legal advice before filing for divorce or making financial decisions is recommended to ensure that the requirements are met.

    For many people, when they end a relationship they move out and this signifies the beginning of their separation. However, this is not always the way it goes. There are separated couples who choose to live under one roof due to financial constraints, convenience, or even cultural and social aspects or religious reasons.

    But no matter what the reason is, separation and living under one roof also has its financial and legal effects on the lives of a separated couple, especially in certain aspects like government payments and divorce proceedings.

    In this piece, we’re going to help you understand the legal side of things if you’re still living with your former partner. But first, let’s understand why couples live together even after separation.

    6 Reasons Why Separation Under One Roof Happens

    Living together after separation is not the best option for everyone. It can be challenging emotionally and practically and may not be suitable for those who need more distance or space from their ex-partner.

    However, there are several common reasons why separated couples may choose to continue living together, including:

    1. Financial reasons

    Living together can be a more affordable option than living separately, especially if one or both partners cannot afford to move out on their own. Sharing expenses such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries can help both partners save money.

    2. Co-parenting

    If the couple has children, living together can make it easier to co-parent and provide stability for the children. It may also allow for more flexible care arrangements.

    3. Convenience

    Living in the same home together can be more convenient than finding separate residences, especially if the couple has shared pets or household responsibilities. It can also be easier to divide household chores and responsibilities when living in the same space.

    4. Lack of alternative housing

    In some cases, one or both partners may not have a viable alternative housing option. This could be due to financial constraints, lack of availability of suitable housing, personal or family crisis or other factors.

    5. Emotional attachment

    Even after separating, some couples may still have a strong emotional attachment to one another. Living together may allow them to maintain that connection while they work through their issues and decide what their future holds.

    6. Cultural or religious reasons

    In some cultures or religions, it may be frowned upon or forbidden to separate or divorce. Living together under these circumstances may be seen as a compromise or a way to maintain appearances.

    Can you be legally separated and live together?

    Technically, there are no legal requirements or certifications for separation. So yes, you can be separated and still be living under one roof.

    However, you may need to alert certain institutions like Centrelink (Services Australia), banks, insurance companies, or the court system (if you are applying for divorce) and prove to them that you and your partner have already separated even though you’re still living together. This can be proven in a variety of ways.

    Will your living arrangement affect your divorce proceedings?

    They could, however it is possible to get a divorce in Australia while still living together, as the legal requirement for divorce is that the parties have been separated for at least 12 months.

    It is important to understand that while it’s common to live separately when you separate from your partner, a separation is much more than just living in separate residences – there must be a clear intention to end the relationship from one party and evidence of separation.

    How to prove separation under one roof for divorce

    If you and your spouse are still living separated under one roof during the separation period, you will need to provide evidence to the court that you have been living separately under one roof, meaning that you have not been living together as a married couple. This can include evidence such as:


    You and your former partner can prepare written statements called affidavits that describe relationship details, the living arrangements and other factors to confirm that separation has occurred. These affidavits must be sworn or affirmed before an authorised person, such as a lawyer or justice of the peace.

    Witness statements

    You can ask other people who know about your living arrangements or sexual relationship to provide statements to the court. This could include family members, friends, neighbours, or professionals such as doctors or counsellors.

    Financial records

    If you and your former partner have separate finances, you can provide bank accounts, statements, bills, and other financial records to demonstrate that you are living separately.

    Utility bills

    You can provide utility bills or other documents that show that you have separate accounts for gas, electricity, water, and other utilities.

    Photos or videos

    You can provide photos or videos that show your separate living arrangements, such as separate bedrooms or living areas.

    Other evidence

    You can provide any other evidence that confirms separation, such as emails, text messages, or social media posts that demonstrate that you have separated.

    It is recommended that you seek legal advice before filing for divorce to ensure that you meet the requirements and that the divorce proceedings will not be impacted by your living arrangement.

    We can guide you on how to prove separation under one roof and any other legal considerations that may apply in your specific circumstances.

    When to seek legal help

    Ideally, the moment that you and your partner decide to have separate lives, under one roof or not, is the best time to approach a family lawyer so you would know your options.

    We can also advise you on what living and financial arrangements that you must maintain so you can prove to the court that you’re already separated and living together.

    For expert and compassionate legal advice, contact us today!

    I’m considering separating what should I do? 1024 667 Dorter

    I’m considering separating what should I do?

    The decision to separate from a partner is understandably a very difficult decision. You may be in a situation where you feel confused and your life is out of control.

    It is important to find confidence, gain clarity and take control of your decisions.

    Although every relationship is unique, the one thing you should do is know your rights and entitlements particularly how it affects you,  your children or your financial situation. We identify the top three things to do when considering a separation:

    1. Seeking legal advice

      Although you may know many who have been through a separation, each separation is different and knowing how to navigate your own separation is important.

      Before you separate, you should obtain legal advice to understand your rights and entitlements in the event of any separation. This will empower you with the knowledge of what separation entails and give you the confidence to make the decision on whether or not you wish to separate.

      Depending on your situation, your family lawyers may explain different ways of separating, such as physical separation and obtaining new accommodation or remaining at home and living under the one roof. Each situation involves different implications both financial and non-financial.

      Expert Family Lawyers will guide you and tailor their expert advice to your unique situation.

    2. Seeking help

      “Help is always available, you just need to ask.” Although this may be true, many do not know where to seek help or what help is needed.

      Expert Family lawyers will provide you the guidance to seek help where you may or may not realise it is needed. This could be anything from financial support, counselling support, safety and risk management, or referrals to other experts where needed.

    3. Securing key information

      If you are considering separation you may need to secure key information. This includes securing key documents such as passports, and identification documents. You may also need to protect assets such as ensuring bank accounts require two signatures to operate.

      Your family lawyer would be able to advise you as to what other documents are relevant and how to obtain them, if they are not in your possession. This could include obtaining documents to gain understanding of your finances and financial situation, seeking documents regarding your interests in any properties or assets, or obtaining reports or assessments for the interests of the children.

    If you are considering a separation, Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators are expert Family Lawyers who specialise in all areas of family law and mediation and can assist you. We can be contacted on (02) 9929 8840.

    Julie Cheung
    Senior Associate

    Rebekah Dorter

    I want a Divorce. Do I need a Family Lawyer? 1024 683 Dorter

    I want a Divorce. Do I need a Family Lawyer?

    Separation and Divorce are different. Separation occurs when a couple decide, and communicate, that they no longer wish to be a couple. Divorce can occur 12 months after separation but is not compulsory. 

    When people separate, they often wonder whether they should see a lawyer. The answer is ‘yes’. People can reach agreement without legal assistance, but it is important to consult with a specialised family lawyer to make an informed decision who can provide you with clarity and confidence about your options and entitlements. 

    Specialised Family Lawyers can assist with: 

    1. Family Breakdowns

      Separation and family breakdowns can be difficult, especially when children are involved. Many people are unaware of their entitlements under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) “the Act” and the processes available to assist them.

      Complications can arise if domestic violence is an issue or if a party is disadvantaged, for whatever reason. Specialised family lawyers can provide the right care and knowledge to assist you. Family lawyers can provide specialised and independent advice, separating the emotional aspects of the separation from the legal issues.

    2. Properly documenting an agreement on separation

      If you have reached an agreement with your partner or spouse after separation it is vital to properly document that agreement, so it is legally binding. When agreements are not documented correctly there is a risk the agreement will not be binding or is ‘overturned’, which can enable the other party to have a ‘second bite of the cherry’. A specialised family lawyer can assist you with documenting a legally binding agreement.

    3. De Facto partners

      When couples separate, the Family Law Act provides guidance as to how separated couples should divide their assets and liabilities and make arrangements for their children. The Act applies when married couples separate and also when de facto partners separate.

    If you have separated, or are considering separation, it is wise to obtain advice from specialised family lawyers.  

    If you are considering engaging a family lawyer for your assistance, Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators are expert Family Lawyers who specialise in all areas of family law and mediation and can assist you. We can be contacted on (02) 9929 8840.

    Antonia Cacopardo

    Rebekah Dorter

    Declaration of Nullity and Divorce 800 533 Dorter

    Declaration of Nullity and Divorce

    “Is a Declaration of Nullity the Same as a Divorce?”

    After married couples have been separated for a period of twelve (12) months they may wish to apply to the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court for Divorce. Some clients, however, ask if they can obtain a Nullity rather than a Divorce order.

    What is a Nullity?

    A Declaration of Nullity is a finding by the Family Court of Australia that, although a marriage ceremony may have taken place, the marriage between the parties is void and not legal. As a result, the outcome is that the parties to the void marriage do not become divorced, but rather it is as though they were never married in the first place. This is also known as a marriage annulment.

    How to Declare Nullity

    The Court is able to make such a declaration in accordance with the Family Law Act however, there are very specific grounds upon which a Declaration of Nullity may be sought. A Declaration of Nullity may be made on the following grounds:

    1. At the time of the parties’ marriage, one of the parties remained married to someone else (a previous relationship where no divorce occurred);
    2. The parties are in a prohibited relationship;
    3. The parties did not comply with the laws of the marriage in the country they were married;
    4. Either party was not of a legal age to marry and did not hold the relevant approvals; or
    5. Either of the parties did not give their real consent to the marriage because:-
      • consent was obtained by duress or fraud;
      • one party was mistaken as to the identity of who they were marrying or the nature of the ceremony; or
      • one party was mentally incapable of understanding the nature and the effect of the marriage ceremony.

    When do you want to seek a Declaration of ‘Nullity’ and not a ‘Divorce’?

    The purpose of a Declaration of Nullity is to find a marriage “void”, meaning “of no effect”. The primary reason a Declaration of Nullity is sought is when one of the parties is already married. This is often the case when:

    1. A party is unaware that their previous marriage was formally registered; or
    2. A party is unaware that no Divorce Order has been granted in relation to their earlier marriage.

    A recent Family Court Decision dealt with this issue whereby an Application for Nullity was sought. In this case, the Wife had not obtained a Divorce Order from her previous Husband. The Wife had been separated from her former Husband for approximately 12 years prior to the second marriage, however, she was not aware that a Divorce Order had not been granted from her first marriage.

    In this matter, there were three (3) steps that needed to be completed: –

    1. Apply to the Family Court for a Declaration of Nullity;
    2. Obtain a divorce from her first Husband; and
    3. Legally re-marry.

    When is a Marriage Recognised?

    The ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Marriage Act 1961, defines marriage as “The union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

    The criteria to be legally married in Australia, requires that you must: –

    1. Not be married to another person;
    2. Not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister;
    3. Be at least 18 years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18 years old;
    4. Understand what marriage means and freely consent to becoming husband and wife;
    5. Use specific words during the ceremony; and
    6. Give written notice of the intention to marry to their authorised celebrant, within the required time frame.

    If you would like any assistance with the above, Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators are expert family lawyers who specialise in all areas of family law and can assist. Please contact us on (02) 99298840.

    Luke Meehan

    Rebekah Dorter

    This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice.  If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.