Formalising Agreements

Reaching an agreement is often the most difficult part of someone’s family law journey. If you and your current or former partner have been able to reach this step, congratulations! You are nearly at the end.

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There are a number of ways that an agreement relating to parenting arrangements for your children and/or your financial matters can be formalised.

Why formalise our agreement?

This is the scenario: you and your former partner have spent months going backwards and forwards on email, on the phone, or over coffee negotiating and deciding how you will divide the property you have accumulated together throughout your relationship, and/or what the parenting arrangements for your children will look like now and into the future. You achieved this without a formal legal process, and you are confident that you can practically carry out the steps necessary to give effect to your agreement. So why should you consider engaging a lawyer?

If you do not properly document your agreement in a binding and enforceable way, you could be vulnerable to your former partner making a further claim against you in the future, notwithstanding the informal agreement that you have reached and which you may have carried out. There are also other financial benefits to formalising your property settlement in a legally enforceable way, including access to relevant tax exemptions.

Finality and Protection

Once formalised, the agreement that has been documented is binding upon both you. This means that even if your circumstances change in the future, there is no further claim against each other. You can both move forward with clarity and on your own two feet. This is particularly important where you’re involved in a family business, trust, or company.

Save Money

It is only with a proper court order or Financial Agreement that you will be eligible and receive a transfer duty exemption on the transfer of real property, or effectively transfer superannuation.

To Meet the Needs of Your Bank and/or Accountant

In order to reassign mortgage debt, and release the party not retaining a property, your bank will require a court order or Financial Agreement. In many instances, in order to extract you from a family company or trust, your accountant will also want to know that the assignment of various rights and interests has been undertaken according to law.

Talk to an experienced family lawyer about documenting your family law agreement so that you can move forward with peace of mind.


Consent Orders Versus Financial Agreements

Consent Orders and Financial Agreements are two of the most common ways that a family law agreement can be formalised.

In essence, a financial agreement is a legally recognised binding document which finalises the property and spousal maintenance matters arising from the relationship. The agreement is not filed with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Provided the agreement is documented in the correct legal way with legal advice, it can include an outcome or deal with matters that a court may not otherwise order. Financial Agreements cannot be used to document or formalise parenting matters.

The other way to legally document an agreement at the end of a de facto or matrimonial relationship is by an application for consent orders (sometimes called minutes of consent, consent terms, or agreed orders). An application for consent orders must be filed with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The property settlement must be considered “just and equitable” (fair) by the Registrar before the order can be made. Consent orders, unlike Financial Agreements, can also deal with parenting matters either alongside property matters or without.

The reason why you would use one document over the other is specific to your circumstances and the agreement reached. We encourage you to speak with an expert family lawyer about your options.


What You Need to Know About Consent Orders

Do you have more questions about Consent Orders? Contact our team of expert family lawyers today.


What is the process for obtaining consent orders?

A consent order involves completing the relevant court forms, preparing a “Minute of Order”, and lodging this with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for review and, hopefully, approval. The proposed order that you and your former spouse submit in your application is subject to approval by a judicial officer of the court who must be satisfied that any property settlement is “just and equitable” (fair) before the order is made. The judicial officer must also be satisfied that any maintenance order is adequate. When making an application for consent orders with the court, there is no need for you or your former spouse to attend court.

It is important to note that a consent order is not immediately binding when signed. The orders must be filed in the Court and it is not until the orders are granted that they will become binding.

What you need to know about Consent Orders

Do you have more questions about Consent Orders? Contact our team of expert family lawyers today.


Financial Agreements

Whether you are married or in a de facto relationship, you and your spouse have a right to enter into a legal agreement regarding your financial matters.

In simple terms, a financial agreement, or a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA), is a contract that deals with financial matters arising from a relationship. Financial agreements can be made at the beginning of a relationship or prior to marriage (“pre-nup”), during the relationship, or following the breakdown of a relationship.

What You Need to Know About Financial Agreements

What is a financial agreement, and is it relevant in my circumstances? One of our specialist family lawyers, Amity Anderson, explains what you need to know about financial agreements in this short video.

Does a financial agreement sound like it might be suitable for you? Contact our team of experienced family lawyers today to learn more.


In order for a financial agreement to be “binding”, there are strict rules applied by the court. Failure to follow these rules can, and in our experience will, see your agreement highly unlikely to be enforceable if someone does not make good on what they said they would do.

Is it really “binding”?

In order to be “binding”, a financial agreement must satisfy a number of sections of the family law legislation. They also need to address the changing needs and circumstances over time for both parties.

There have been several court decisions that have “set aside” (dismissed) financial agreements for a number of reasons. A financial agreement might be dismissed if a court finds any of the following to be true:

  • Duress and unconscionable conduct
  • Agreements presented as “sign it or else”
  • Lack of independent legal advice
  • Inadequate legal advice
  • Poorly prepared and executed agreements
  • Lack of disclosure of financial information
  • Failure to comply with legislation

Do I need a lawyer for a financial agreement?

To make sure your agreement ticks all of the boxes and complies with legislation, you must have legal advice from your own lawyer (that is, you and your current or former spouse cannot use the same lawyer). You should seek expert family law advice from someone that works in this area each and every day to make sure the agreement has the best chance of success.


DIY financial agreement kits do exist. The question remains though as to whether you really want to attempt to protect your financial future, and that of your children, with a free template off the internet. Our experience is that in the event they are legally challenged, they rarely tend to be worth the paper they are written on.

If you have already reached an agreement with your current or former partner, our team of expert family lawyers can assist you with drafting that agreement. However, it’s important to note that there is a legal requirement for you to both seek independent legal advice on that agreement, and its implications for you. If we prepare the agreement on behalf of both of you, we are not able to then provide independent advice to both parties. We can however provide advice to one of you and then refer your partner to our network of experienced family lawyers for them to be able to receive their own independent legal advice.

What you need to know about Financial Agreements

What is a financial agreement, and is it relevant in my circumstances? One of our specialist family lawyers, Amity Anderson, explains what you need to know about financial agreements in this short video.

Formalising Agreements in Ipswich, Toowoomba & North Lakes

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