Negotiating a Consent Order – Family law matters can be frustrating for all parties involved due to the intricate and technical steps needed to progress through the process. Whenever we consult with a client, we typically make sure they’re aware of the different ways family law matters can end in North Carolina. One way is by dismissal, another is by trial, and the final is through a consent order. A consent order is a legally binding, enforceable order of the court that binds two parties to certain parameters. We have dedicated an entire blog to describing the basic ins and outs of consent orders in North Carolina.
In this blog, we will talk about how negotiating a consent order works. Specifically, we will be explaining what happens during the negotiation process, if it can be modified, and what issues can arise between parties. Like all of our blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to substitute the advice and counsel of a Family Law attorney.
The Process of Negotiating a Consent Order
Parties have the option of proposing a consent order. Oftentimes, a consent order is more easily reached after mediation.Whenever two parties decide a consent order is their best option, the negotiation process begins. It’s during this time that the client and their attorney spell out in exact detail what they intend on proposing to the defendant. In child custody cases, this includes several sections. Some examples of those sections include; the physical custody of the child, legal custody of the child, schedules of parenting time, when the child will be claimed on taxes, communication between parties, and many others. The attorney and client will communicate back and forth on items the client deems are necessary to include and exclude.
For example, the client doesn’t find it necessary to list out specific bedtime instructions because they believe both parties are adult enough to put the child/children to bed at a decent time. Once this is finished, the document is then sent to opposing counsel and their client. They make changes and revise what they’d like to agree to and/or disagree to.
Can You Change A Final Consent Order?
North Carolina courts will not change any aspect of a consent order unless one of the parties files a Motion to Modify Custody under North Carolina Statute 50-13.7.
§ 50-13.7. Modification of order for child support or custody.
“an order of a court of this State for support of a minor child may be modified or vacated at any time, upon motion in the cause and a showing of changed circumstances by either party or anyone interested”
This means a party must allege and prove a substantial change in circumstances since the entry of a consent order that affects the welfare of the minor children. If this burden is not met, the order cannot be changed.
Violation of a Consent Order
Once a consent order is filed, it is enforceable just as any other court order would be. This means a party who violates the consent order may be found in contempt and could even face jail time.