What happens if you breach a Consent Order?

The implications of breaching a court Order are the same whether the Order was made by consent or pursuant to a contested hearing.

Ordinarily, the Court will want to see the Order complied with, and it can sometimes be the case that no other Orders that might otherwise be punitive in nature are made if it appears as though the Orders will be complied with in the future. For many people, the prospect of having to attend Court and answer questions about why they have not complied with an Order is enough to ensure compliance with the Orders in the future without a further penalty being imposed.

If the Court is minded to impose some sort of penalty, it will have regard to the nature of the breach and whether it was a minor or major breach of a Consent Order. It may also take into consideration how many times the Consent Order has been breached and the reasons why it has been breached in determining an appropriate penalty.

For a breach of a parenting Order, typically, the Court might only issue a warning for a minor breach, or it may Order a party to attend a post-separation parenting program. In more serious cases, however, it might Order a party to pay a fine or to pay all or some of the legal costs of the other side. At its highest, the Court has the power to imprison parties for breaching court Orders will though this is a rare outcome and would require a very serious breach of the Orders to have been found.

Other things that the Court can do when they are looking at what to do after a court Order has been breached include changing or varying the Orders, suspending an Order or discharging an Order. An Order can also be made in a parenting case compensating the other person for lost time with their child or children if this is the nature of the breach.

What is a ‘Minute of Consent’?

A minute of consent is essentially a term used for a document that contains the proposed Consent Orders that you are asking the Court to make on your behalf. A minute of consent can deal with either property settlement Consent Orders or parenting Orders and also Consent Orders for the payment of spousal maintenance. The Family Court considers the Minute of Order that is signed by and submitted on behalf of the parties, and if the document is in Order and all of the provisions are drafted in a way that is legally binding and capable of enforcement, then the Court will make Consent Orders in accordance with the Minute of Order that has been filed.

A Minute of Order can be filed during the course of contested court proceedings if procedural Orders are sought by the parties or if there is a partial or full agreement reached between the parties, whether in relation to their property settlement or the future care arrangements for their child or children.

A Minute of Order is, however, used in all cases where Consent Orders are being sought by the parties in circumstances where there are no court proceedings on foot and the parties are asking the Court to make the Orders without the necessity for either party actually to attend Court. We can complete this task for a fixed fee. 

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