Can I Change Consent Orders?
Absolutely, changing a consent order is possible, but it’s not a walk in the park. You’ll need to establish that there’s been a significant change in circumstances since the original orders were made.
This could be anything from a change in living arrangements to health issues affecting either the child or a parent.
The court will then consider whether the proposed changes are in the child’s best interests.
How to Change a Consent Order
- Mutual Agreement: The simplest way is to agree on the changes with the other party mutually. You can then document these changes into new Consent Orders and apply for these new orders in court.
- Mediation: If you can’t agree, consider mediation through a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. You can document an agreement in a Parenting Plan if it is reached.
- Court Application: If all else fails, you must apply to the court to vary the existing orders. This is usually a last resort due to the time and expense involved.
When Can a Consent Order Be Changed?
A Consent Order can be changed when there’s a “significant change in circumstances.” This could include:
Relocation Plans Involving the Child
If one parent plans to relocate to a different city, state, or even country, the existing Consent Order may need to be revised to accommodate this change.
The order might need to specify:
- New visitation schedules, considering the distance and travel time.
- How the costs of travel for visitation will be split between the parents.
- Communication methods and frequency between the non-relocating parent and the child.
- Any changes in primary custody, if applicable.
Significant Changes in Living Arrangements
Let’s say one parent moves to a smaller home, or a new partner moves in with one of the parents.
These changes could impact the child’s living conditions and may require a review of the Consent Order. Changes might include:
- Re-evaluation of the child’s primary residence.
- Modifications to visitation schedules to ensure the child has adequate living space during visits.
- Re-assessment of financial contributions from each parent, especially if the change impacts the child’s quality of life.
Health Issues Affecting the Child or a Parent
If a child or parent develops a significant health issue, the Consent Order may need to be updated to include:
- New medical responsibilities for each parent, such as who takes the child to doctor’s appointments or administers medication.
- Changes in custody or visitation schedules to accommodate medical treatments.
- Financial adjustments to cover new medical expenses.
Cases of Abuse
In unfortunate cases where abuse is involved, immediate changes to the Consent Order are often necessary for the safety of the child or the abused parent.
These changes could include:
- Revoking or limiting visitation rights of the abusive parent.
- Implementing supervised visitations.
- Changing the primary custody to the non-abusive parent.
- Including restraining orders or other legal protections within the Consent Order.
In each of these scenarios, it’s crucial to consult legal professionals to ensure that the changes are in the best interests of the child and are legally sound.
The court uses a rule known as the “Rice v Asplund” rule to determine if a significant change has occurred. This rule limits ongoing litigation and its impact on families, particularly children.
How We Can Help: Changing a Consent Order
We recently had the opportunity to assist a divorced father grappling with the complexities of amending a consent order related to his children’s custody arrangements.
Recognising the emotional and legal weight of the situation, we scheduled an in-depth consultation to explore his options.
We clarified that altering a consent order isn’t straightforward and generally requires proof of a “significant change in circumstances.”
We guided him through the required documentation and legal procedures, even offering to represent him in court to ensure his interests were adequately protected.
The complexities of amending a consent order should not be navigated alone. Legal intricacies can become overwhelming, especially when dealing with emotional matters like child custody.
What is a Consent Order?
A Consent Order is a legal document that formalises an agreement between two parties in a family law dispute.
It’s often used to settle property division, spousal maintenance, and child custody matters. The purpose of a Consent Order is to provide a legally binding resolution without the need for a court trial.
Both parties must agree to the terms, and the order is then approved and issued by a court, usually the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
A specialised law firm can provide invaluable insights, ensuring that all necessary procedures are followed and your interests are effectively represented in court.
Suppose you find yourself in a similar situation. In that case, we strongly recommend consulting with legal professionals who can guide you through each step, empowering you to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of you and your family.
Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.