Consent Orders (Download)

By Michael Knight

Thursday 10 November 2011

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Consent Orders are simply an agreement in writing between the Separating parties accommodating most of the wishes of each party in a specific and time related way. Essentially it's a legally binding contract that can also contain default, time or event related clauses.

By most I mean there are things that can't be split in two like children, physical objects, time elements and so forth, hence both sides will have to partake in some compromise and negotiation, paving the way for an amicable and hopefully peaceful parting of the ways. Well, this is the general idea anyway.

Consent Orders can be drafted in the court building with lawyers putting you on the spot and under pressure causing you to panic or fear with say common fear tactics like if you don't agree and sign we'll go before the judge and you probably won't like what you get. With these types of stresses and lack of time to think things through clearly you can make some bad decisions about important issues, which you may regret and get angry about later.

A more preferable solution is to conduct negotiations over days, weeks or months in your own space giving you time to think clearly about your desires, present and future requirements, resulting in a clear set of Consent Orders that you are happy with. Mind you, you don't always get this luxury as a vexed party can pull you into court at the drop of a hat for all sorts of reasons, forcing you to make both quick and good decisions.

Consent Orders can also be likened to a reinforced handshake where your word is your bond. Still today in some circles, some transactions are still honoured by a person's word and shake of the hand however, in matrimonial affairs this is rarely the case where the stakes are high, emotions and confusion runs rampant.

Orders by Consent are not Orders made by a decision of the Court, only sanctioned by the Court, giving rise to their authenticity known as sealed Orders and having them recorded and placed on your court file to be referred to at a later date for any reason. The lawyers also gain a benefit from this process legally validating their entitlement to appearance and preparation fees etc, through the wording Certified for Counsel or similar.

Consent Orders are possibly the best and cheapest way if two parents can get to this point sooner than later, being clear about the division of property, assets, child support and of course the relevant duties and responsibilities of children.

Of course 'being clear' are the operative words with Separation, as one or both parents often don't have a clue about what's really going on. Whether it be with their own emotional and mental states, or this other person they have spent a part of their life with and where they are at now, not to mention knowing what the legal game is all about.

Consent Orders are also the strongest yet most flexible and timely Orders if worked properly amongst co-operating parents, although paradoxically if parents could co-operate properly, there would be no need for Orders in the first place, save perhaps a set of Consent Orders at the very end formalising matters that will be permanent such as a change of financial particulars.

Consent Orders are even stronger than judicial made Orders, in so far as there can be no appealing Consent Orders like you can with Orders made by judicial officers, save for the High Court being at the top of the legal tree of course. Although, the public could override and overpower this body if it ever found itself (the public) in need to enforce their inalienable or natural god given rights and passage. If this happened in whatever country and order was thrown out the window, these would be desperate, dark and revolutionary days indeed.

Consent Orders like judicial Orders can of course be brought before a Court through a Contempt of Court or Contravention of Orders Application or similar, where it is argued that the other party did not comply with one or more of the clauses in the Orders. Whilst this enforcement process is necessary at times, it can be open for abuse and become all too common by some parties and lawyers, especially where there are kicks to be had and money to be looted.

On the other hand, all too many Consent Orders that get flouted and should be brought before the court for enforcement often don't. Simply, they never get to see the inside of a courtroom due to the sometimes many barriers one needs to overcome to make it happen, including emotional and financial costs, energy, fears, personality, time and the possibility the other parent will walk away with a slap on their wrist if defended by a half competent lawyer. However, if multiple breaches and recalcitrant behaviour over many hearings can be demonstrated and held to be true without reasonable excuse, the offending parent could be looking at fines or in the extreme, jail time.

So summing up, ensure you give yourself plenty of time at home (out of court or a lawyer's office) to build a wish list of what you need or would like for your children and finances. A lawyer may then guide you as to your possible entitlements and particulars you need to consider. Be careful about making rash decisions in a lawyer's office or anywhere you feel stressed or under pressure. Take the paperwork away with you and give yourself plenty of time to work out what is good for you and your children, both in the short and long term. It will take some crystal ball gazing for sure so be patient until you become clear. It will be worth it.

Also be mindful that interim Consent Orders under pressure by lawyers in a court setting can be a terrifying experience if you come away from Court regretting what you have consented to. Not just as a matter of loss, but what may not be workable now or in the future. Some times you have a good lawyer who can help alot and sometimes you don't, however the ability to foresee your future circumstances and needs is upto you. Remember, don't rush or be bullied into signing anything you don't understand or are not happy with!

One strategy of a self-represented litigant was to take the draft copy of Consent Orders (or minutes of Consent), leave the court building and go sit in the park and sun or in a place where they could think clearly. The lawyers were mad and fuming upon them returning but there was little they could do. Sometimes you may need to break the lawyers games of trickery and run a game plan that works for you. If you're not running your own game, you must be running someone elses.

As you push through your fear gaining empowerment greater clarity will become present. When you follow your heart and head doing the right thing by others, say your children, taking the heat is all so worth it giving you enormous strength and peace of mind that only few ever dream of.

With love, kindness and peace

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    By: lynne from africa, south africa on January 1, 1970 @ 10:00 am
    Plse read
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