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When You Agree in a Family Law Matter

Thursday, 11 April, 2019

Even though we do meet with a lot of clients that are in dispute with their former partner, we do also meet with many clients who have reached an agreement with the other party in their Family Law matter and that they now wish to formalise that agreement in writing. There are a number of ways that can be achieved, and an experienced Family Lawyer is the best person to advise you about the most appropriate document for your circumstances.

Parenting Plans

There are many parents whom, once separated, are able to remain focused on the best interests of their child and able to reach an amicable agreement for future parenting arrangements. That agreement can then be articulated in a parenting plan, which is an informal document that specifies the ongoing parenting arrangements for the child. It should provide for how the child is to be raised including how decisions will be made between the parents, whom the child should live with primarily and how much time they are to then spend with the other parent. Though not legally binding, a parenting plan can be an effective document to manage separated parents, especially if drafted carefully.  

Binding Financial Agreements

For matters involving the separation of property, the parties may elect to have their agreement formalised by way of a Binding Financial Agreement, which is an out-of-court agreement that, provided it is properly prepared and executed, is legally binding. Following proper consideration of each of the parties’ financial circumstances, a Binding Financial Agreement can be drawn at any time during a relationship, in contemplation of a marriage or at the time of separation. Following execution of the Binding Financial Agreement, it is legally binding and can only be set aside in limited and specific circumstances.

Consent Orders

For both parenting matters and property matters, or matters that concern both aspects, a further option for parties who agree is for their agreement to be formalised by the Court but without the need to appear before a Judge. Parties can apply to the Court, attaching their signed agreement, and request that the Court make their proposed Order. The result, if approved by the Court, is a Consent Order, which is legally binding upon the parties. Should there be failure by one of the parties to comply with the terms of the Consent Order, it is open for the other party to commence contravention proceedings to seek enforcement or variation of the Orders. It is also open to the Court in contravention proceedings to punish the offending party.   

With any of the above documents, it is important that they are prepared correctly, and wherever possible by an experienced Family Lawyer, so that:

  • - Your rights and entitlements are best protected;
  • - The document has the effect that is intended;
  • - Your matter comes to finality; and
  • - As best as possible, future disputes are prevented.

In property matters especially, a properly prepared document can enable a person to claim exemptions from payment of transfer duty and land registration fees when dealing with transfer of the relevant property.

At Bruce Legal, our Family Lawyers are focused on and experienced in assisting you to settle your matter by agreement with the other party and at the earliest stage possible, as we know the expense that drawn out litigation can have, not only financially but also emotionally. Your time should be better spent enjoying time with your children and family, rather than in ongoing litigation, wherever possible.

Author: Bruce Legal

Amy Smith