An informal agreement is generally reached between two parties before seeking legal advice.


What level of certainty do you need?

Generally speaking, informal agreements are not backed by “the force of law” and can thus be quite hazardous to rely on. Or put another way, they are only slightly more formal than a verbal agreement, take these scenarios for example:

  • Mary had an informal parenting plan drafted by a family mediator with her former husband, but 6 months down the track he is completely disregarding the terms of the agreement.
  • A financial mediator offers to create a property settlement agreement for Toby and Jane. She titles the agreement “disclosure” which is simply a statement of facts at a point in time, not an agreement.
  • John seeks out mediation with his former partner during the process of separation. Then, 18 months later he sees her driving a new car and finds out she has borrowed money. without the formal separation, John could still be liable for her debts.

In short, these examples demonstrate an informal agreement is not able to be legally enforced until it goes through the family court and is “stamped off” by a judge. This is why you should formalise your informal agreements to be legally binding. Until you make a binding agreement you may still be liable for the debts the other party generates as you haven’t yet achieved financial separation.

Do both parties still consent to the informal agreement?

  • If you have an informal agreement and are on amicable terms with your ex partner, and both still consent to the terms of the agreement then the process of formalising the agreement is straight forward.
  • We work with you to put the agreement in a format acceptable to the court, so that it can be signed off by a judge. The agreement must meet the just and equitability requirements and demonstrate that both parties are fully informed of the consequences and that the agreement is not overly one sided.

Have one or both parties changed their mind about the informal agreement?

  • If you no longer consent to the informal agreement you’ll need to go through the family court.
  • This is common in violent or threatening situations where you need to agree under duress to get into a safe place, and then wish to amend the agreement.
  • We can help you contact the other party and enter into pre-action procedure before going to court, part of this action involves a financial disclosure of current assets including super and any liabilities.
  • The up side to making an informal agreement is that if you think the deal made at the time was unfair, we can renegotiate it.

Do you wish to avoid court and use a binding financial agreement?

You may need a different document, such as a binding financial agreement which sidesteps the family court and requires both parties have sought out a lawyer who can provide a certificate of independent legal advice.


  1. Ascertain the net value of the asset pool. It is important to give full disclosure as the Court takes a very dim view of any failure to do so.
  2. Assess the contributions of each of the parties, such as financial, parenting, homemaking and initial contributions in respect to relationship length.
  3. Consider the future needs, such as the parties ages; health; earning capacities; care of any children under 18 and  the length of the relationship.
  4. Is it Just & equitable? The final stage in the process is where the Court must consider if the terms of the proposed property settlement are just and equitable.
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Why Perth Family Law Centre FOR AGREEMENT advice?

Informal Agreements are a minefield and a good family lawyer should be able to point out the consequences of potential scenarios that could trip you up in future and cost effectively lay out your options to mitigate those risks. We believe, when it comes to Informal Agreements, the two most important things a family lawyer can offer you is knowledge of agreements to avoid court altogether, or offer experience in court formalising binding agreements. 

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If you would like to discuss your options regarding Informal Agreements call us today for an appointment.

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Drew CameronDrew Cameron

I have used David for my family law matters and would highly recommend him. David's knowledge and professionalism is outstanding. Thankyou so much

Tina parsonsTina parsons

Thankyou David for your excellent service and advice. While I was quite nervous with the process David's professionalism and care made me feel very comfortable and reassured. I have no hesitation in recommending Perth family law centres.