Seeking legal advice

It is important to obtain some independent legal advice in relation to your situation. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities. They can also explain how the law applies to your case. A lawyer may also be able to help you reach an agreement without going to court. The court is unable to provide legal advice because to do so could seriously compromise the court's ability to impartially determine a case if a person then applies to the court seeking orders.

The Family Relationship Advice Line (FRAL) can help you with free legal advice and information about services available to assist anybody with family relationship issues - call 1800 050 321 (+61 7 3423 6878 if you are overseas). You should advise FRAL that you are seeking legal advice and they will take your details and a lawyer will call you back. FRAL will advise you of a timeframe on the call back, you should advise if it is urgent.

Alternatively, the Australian government funds a range of legal assistance services that may be able to assist you, including Legal Aid Commissions and individual Community Legal Centres, which offer free and low cost advice. Information to assist with finding legal services is available from the Attorney-General's Department website.

What are consent orders?

If both parties have reached agreement about parenting and/or financial/property arrangements and want to formalise the agreement to make it binding, you can apply to the Family Court of Australia for consent orders. Consent orders can also be used to vary or discharge existing family law orders. Please read the following information in relation to parenting and property and financial matters before you proceed. The Family Law Act 1975 requires the courts to regard the best interests of a child as the most important consideration when making parenting orders. You should also read financial cases principles that the court considers to settle financial disputes. The court has to be satisfied that the agreement is just and equitable and/or in the best interests of the child/ren before they can make a consent order.

Are there any time restrictions in filing consent orders for property or financial orders?

Application can be filed any time after separation but should to be filed within 12 months of a divorce or 2 years of the breakdown of a de facto relationship (s44 of FLA) if parties wish to seek orders from the court.

If you are seeking orders for property settlement or maintenance and more than 12 months has lapsed since your divorce became final, you should read and consider s44(3) of the Family Law Act. This may apply and if so, you must consent to the Court making the proposed property and maintenance orders. If filing beyond the time frame, you need to seek leave to file the application. Leave can be requested as one of the orders sought.

If your de facto relationship broke down more than two years before the date of filing this application, you will have to file by post or at a Family Law Registry (see Unable to eFile below). If you are seeking for property settlement/maintenance orders, you should also file an Application in a Case + Affidavit seeking the Court’s permission to bring an application for property settlement/maintenance seeking leave for the application to be heard out of time.

How do I choose which court to file my application in?

Consent orders applications can only be filed in the Family Court of Australia.

Filing an application with the Court

Helpful hint - For more information about eFiling applications on the Commonwealth Courts Portal see How do I eFile?

The Court recommends electronically filing (eFiling) applications. This allows you, within a secure website, access to information about your court file, the ability to eFile a range of applications and supporting documents, and to pay the filing fee, online 24/7. For information on eFiling your application click on eFile below.

You cannot eFile if:

  • you are applying for a fee exemption due to financial hardship,
  • you do not have access to the required technology,
  • you are unable to pay by credit/debit card online (see Helpful Hint under Unable to eFile)
  • Parenting Application - If parties to the application are not parents of the children (For example – grandparents cannot efile)
  • Parenting and/or Property/Financial Application - De facto couples – If the relationship broke down more than two years before the date of filing this application, or
  • your application is urgent.

If for any reason you cannot eFile the application click on Unable to eFile below.

  • An Application for Consent Orders (using the online interactive forms within the portal).
  • Application for Consent Orders - proposed orders template - (This template contains the proforma for your proposed consent orders. If you are seeking parenting orders you should also read the fact sheet Parenting Orders - obligations, consequences and who can help).
  • Annexure to Proposed Consent Parenting Orders (This form has to be completed by each party to an application for parenting orders by consent, or by his or her lawyer. The Annexures should be filed with the Court at the same time as the Application for Consent Orders and attached to the back of the signed consent orders supplement.)
  • Superannuation information kit (only required if seeking a splitting/ flagging order - can be ordered if further information is required). You must provide a valuation and evidence that procedural fairness has been provided to the relevant superannuation trustee.
  • Statement of Truth and independent legal advice
    • Statement of Truth of Applicant The Statement of Truth of Applicant is a tick box at Step 3 during the online process which is enabled once the preceding steps have been completed.
    • Statement of independent legal advice (applicant)  If the person named as the applicant sought legal advice the lawyer who provided the advice must complete this form and upload it at the additional documents screen.
    • Statement of Truth of Respondent  The person named as the respondent is required to complete, sign and date this form at the same time they sign the proposed orders and upload it at the additional documents screen.
    • Statement of independent legal advice (respondent) If the person named as the respondent sought legal advice the lawyer who provided the advice must complete this form and upload it at the additional documents screen.

NOTE: parenting and property/financial orders can be sought in the same application.

Follow the instructions on the Application for Consent Orders Kit to help you file your application. You will need to file the following:

Documents (original + a copy for each party to the matter) can be filed at a family law registry along with the filing fee (see below). You should have all your documents signed, witnessed (if required) and photocopied before you file.

NOTE: parenting and property/financial orders can be sought in the same application.

Helpful Hint: Did you know that you can purchase a reloadable prepaid Visa debit card from the post office for $6.95.

Are there any fees?

There is a $160 fee (or $0 if you are eligible for an exemption of fees - only the applicant is required to be eligible for exemption)

If you are eligible for an exemption general, you should complete the Application for exemption from fees general and attach a photocopy of documentary evidence (both sides).

Helpful hint - If you are eligible for an exemption of fee – general you can complete the online interactive applications within the portal.

If you are not eligible, but payment of the fee will cause you financial hardship you can complete the Application for exemption from fees – financial hardship. Your application will then be considered by the court. For further information, see the publication Guidelines for exemption of court fees.

Note: If you are applying for an exemption of fee due to financial hardship you cannot eFile your application.

If you have eFiled your application you will be required to pay the filing fee by credit/debit card (visa/mastercard) when you complete the online interactive application. If you file your application by post or in person go to Making payments to the courts for more information.

Helpful Hint: Did you know that if you do not have a credit/debit card you can buy a pre-paid debit card from the Post Office for a nominal fee? For more information on Load & Go Reloadable pre-paid VISA cards visit the Australia Post website.

What will happen after I have filed documents with the Court?

If you posted or filed an application for consent orders at a registry, each party will receive a sealed copy of the photocopied application back after filing, for their records. The original application will be kept by the Court on file. If you eFiled an application for consent orders, you will be able to go into the Documents filed section and print a sealed copy for your record. Go into the Image of the Documents Filed button  section and  click on the Adobe pdf logo  icon to print out a sealed copy. The application will be considered and the parties will be notified if the consent orders are made by receipt of the sealed orders. If the orders are not made, the parties will receive notification as why the orders were not made. If you wish to follow up on your consent orders application you should email the family law registry where the application was filed.. If you receive notification that the consent orders have not been made by the Court you should obtain legal advice.

Legislation that might assist you:

Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 - SCHEDULE 8 - (Removal of references to residence and contact)
Parenting orders legislation 
Financial orders legislation (other than child maintenance) for de facto couples
Financial orders legislation (other than child maintenance) for married couples