Consent Order – Family law matters are complicated and have a lot of technical steps involved throughout the process, which would be impossible to illustrate in just one blog. Whenever we are consulting with a new client, we always let them know that other than a dismissal of the action entirely, there are only two ways any family law matter will end – with a trial or through consent via a consent order.
In this blog, we will talk about how things end with consent. Specifically, we will be explaining consent orders, what they are, what they mean, and what the process is for getting one.
What is a consent order?
A consent order is a legally binding and legally enforceable order of the court, signed by the judge, that binds two parties to certain parameters. It has the same effect and force as any other judge’s order. The main difference is that the parties came to this agreement on their own, without a judge dictating it to them through a final order.
How do you get a consent order?
A consent order is one of the possible end results of a civil action (in this case, specifically a family law matter). Most family law proceedings begin the same way, and that is with one party filing a complaint against the other in court. Usually that party is seeking an arrangement that is very specific, but they most often than not end up with something that is not exactly what they envisioned.
What is the benefit of a consent order versus than a trial?
In North Carolina, more often than not, the ultimate decider in a family law trial is the judge. In said trial, the judge listens to all the evidence and makes a decision on what he or she thinks should happen. Using that method, rarely does either party truly get what they want and both parties may end up unhappy. Further, once the judge makes that decision, the parties cannot simply change their minds, and come up with a different plan.
The best way to control the parameters of any given order is for the parties to come to an agreement via consent order. This way they have a lot more control than they would have otherwise.
Consent orders in Child Custody matters
We often see consent orders in child custody cases, for several reasons. One of these reasons is that in North Carolina, parties who have filed a child custody action must go through mediation prior to trial. This mandatory mediation is to be attended by both parents and a neutral third-party mediator. The purpose is to try to work out a custody and visitation arrangement that both parties can agree to.
If the parties can agree in that mediation, a consent order that outlines exactly what that arrangement is will be produced for signature by both parents and by the judge. Even after the mediation period has passed, the parties can still agree to everything from visitation to legal custody in a consent order. This would spare them the rigors and inherent conflict of a child custody trial.
If you are considering, or are in the middle of, a family law case and you are in need of a lawyer, contact us. At Gilles law, we handle a wide variety of family law matters in North Carolina.