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Setting Aside Consent Orders Family Law: Is it Possible?

setting aside consent orders family law | Justice Family Lawyers

Yes, it is possible to set aside consent orders in family law, but it can only be done under specific circumstances and usually requires demonstrating a valid legal ground.

Consent orders, which are agreements formally approved by a court and thus carry the same legal force as a judge’s ruling, are generally considered final. However, they can be set aside if new evidence emerges or if there was a significant mistake, fraud, or misrepresentation when the orders were made.

For example, if one party did not provide full and frank financial disclosure or if there was coercion or duress, a court might consider setting aside the consent order.

Significant changes in circumstances that could not have been anticipated when the order was made, especially those affecting the welfare of children, might also justify setting aside an order.

Courts typically require a substantial reason to overturn a consent order to avoid unnecessarily reopening settled matters and maintain the finality of judgments​.

The process usually involves filing a formal application with the court that originally issued the order, and it often requires legal advice or representation due to the complexities involved in demonstrating the required legal thresholds​.

Under What Circumstances Can Consent Orders Be Set Aside?

Consent orders can be set aside under various circumstances, primarily to ensure fairness and justice in family law. Here are some of the main circumstances under which consent orders can be challenged:

  1. Material Non-disclosure: If one party fails to disclose significant financial or other relevant information that would have impacted the terms of the agreement, the consent order can be reviewed and potentially set aside.
  2. Fraud or Misrepresentation: Similar to non-disclosure, if consent orders were based on fraudulent information or misrepresentations made by one party, this could be grounds for setting them aside.
  3. Duress or Coercion: If it can be shown that a consent order was agreed to under duress or coercion, the court may consider setting it aside to ensure that all agreements were made freely and voluntarily.
  4. Change in Circumstances: Significant changes in circumstances that were unforeseen at the time the consent orders were made, especially those affecting the welfare of children (such as a change in a parent’s health, lifestyle, or financial situation), may warrant revisiting and potentially setting aside the orders.
  5. Error in Law or Process: Errors in the legal process or misunderstandings of the law at the time of agreement can also be grounds for setting aside a consent order.
  6. Best Interests of Children: In cases involving children, if the consent orders are no longer in the best interests of the children involved, due to new circumstances or information, a court may consider setting aside the original orders.

These circumstances underscore the legal principle that consent orders while binding, are not beyond review if substantial reasons exist that challenge their fairness or appropriateness under current conditions.

The process typically involves legal proceedings where evidence is presented to justify the request to set aside the orders.

Can Consent Orders Be Set Aside If Both Parties Agree?

Yes, consent orders can be set aside if both parties agree. This is typically a simpler process than unilateral attempts to set aside consent orders because it does not require proving any of the usual grounds like fraud or material non-disclosure.

When both parties mutually consent to change or dismiss the orders, they can jointly apply to the court to have the order set aside or amended.

This mutual agreement is often reflected by submitting a joint application to the court, detailing the reasons for their decision and proposing how the terms of the original order should be modified or annulled.

The court respects such agreements as long as they comply with legal requirements and do not contravene any public policy considerations.

In cases involving children, even with mutual agreement, the court will review the proposed changes to ensure that they are in the children’s best interests before setting aside or modifying the original consent order.

The primary concern in these cases is to safeguard the welfare of the children, irrespective of the agreement between the parents.

Also read: How Long For Consent Order To Be Sealed?

What Happens After a Consent Order Is Set Aside?

After a consent order is set aside, several steps typically follow, depending on the nature of the order and the reasons for its annulment:

  1. Reassessment and Renegotiation: The parties may need to renegotiate the terms of their agreement based on the new circumstances or information that led to the setting aside of the original order. This could involve revisiting financial settlements, property divisions, or arrangements concerning children.
  2. Interim Orders: The court may issue interim orders to govern the situation until a new final agreement is reached or a new trial is conducted. This is particularly common in cases involving children, where immediate and ongoing arrangements must be specified to ensure their welfare.
  3. Further Court Proceedings: Further legal proceedings might be necessary if the consent order was set aside due to fraud or significant non-disclosure. This could involve a full trial where all aspects of the case are reviewed in light of the newly available information.
  4. New Consent Order: Once the parties reach a new agreement, this agreement can be formalised into a new consent order. The new order would then be submitted to the court for approval, ensuring that it complies with legal standards and serves the best interests of all involved, particularly any children.
  5. Legal and Financial Adjustments: There may be significant legal and financial repercussions depending on how the consent order is adjusted. For instance, adjustments might need to be made to asset distributions, child support payments, or spousal maintenance.

The process is governed by the need to ensure fairness and legality in the new arrangements, safeguarding the rights and welfare of all parties involved. The court’s involvement is crucial in ensuring that any new agreement or order is just and equitable, particularly in light of the reasons for setting aside the original order.

Reclaim Your Rights with Justice Family Lawyers

Have you found yourself in a situation where a previous consent order no longer reflects your current circumstances or was established under less-than-truthful conditions? Justice Family Lawyers is here to help.

We specialise in reassessing and potentially setting aside flawed consent orders to ensure justice and fairness. Don’t let past agreements hold you back from what is rightly yours today. Contact Justice Family Lawyers for expert guidance and reclaim your rights!

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