Divorce v Property Settlement v Parenting Orders – what’s the Difference?

Posted on 28 May 2012

One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to family law is that getting a divorce sorts out your property and parenting situation as well.  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

I want a divorce

A divorce is quite a straightforward process.  A divorce is the severance of your marriage.  Once you are in receipt of a Divorce Order from the Court, you are no longer married to your former husband or wife. This means that you are free to remarry. You will be asked to produce the Divorce Order if you intend to remarry or to prove that you are no longer married.

But what about the kids?

In an Application for Divorce there is a section where you can tell the Court what parenting arrangements are in place.  However, the Application for Divorce is not binding on parenting or child support arrangements, and if the parenting situation is in dispute, a divorce hearing is not the appropriate place to deal with the issues.

If you need to formalise parenting arrangements, you will need to do so via Consent Orders, and for child support, via a Child Support Agreement.

And dividing up the assets?

The Application for Divorce provides a section for providing information about whether there has been a property settlement.  The Divorce Order does not provide you with a property settlement. In order to obtain a property settlement you will need to negotiate with your former spouse to reach an agreement, or commence Court proceedings to obtain a property settlement.  Either way, you and your former spouse will need to enter into a Binding Financial Agreement or Consent Orders; or in the event that you proceed to a final hearing, receive Orders from the Court to finalise your property settlement.

So what do I need?

  • If you want to formally end the marriage, you need a divorce.
  • If you want to formalise parenting arrangements, seek legal advice about your options. You may need to obtain Consent Orders.
  • If you want to formalise property arrangements, seek legal advice about your options.  You may need a Binding Financial Agreement, Consent Orders, or assistance with negotiations or commencing Court proceedings.

If you need legal advice about your family law situation, contact our family law team at Dooley & Associates.