Child and parenting cases
Unless there are circumstances of urgency, separated parents are expected to negotiate about the care arrangements of their children before commencing proceedings for Parenting Orders from the Family Court.
If negotiations between the separated parents is unsuccessful on a one-on-one basis or inappropriate because of family violence between them, the separated parents can then engage with a Mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. The FDRP will have separate intake sessions with each parent to discuss their concerns and what they consider to be in the best interests of their children. After each parent has met separately with the FDRP, they attend together with the FDRP for a mediation (either with or without lawyers).
If one parent does not attend or both parents attend but not agreement is reached, the FDRP can issue a Certificate. The Certificate is valid for 12 months and it allows either of the parents to file an application seeking parenting orders from the Family Court.
However, if an agreement is reached at the mediation it can be recorded into a flexible but unenforceable Parenting Plan or an inflexible but enforceable Court Order.
Family Dispute Resolution is an informal and low conflict negotiation process which has high probabilities of success, especially if the parents focus on goals rather then positions. It is also much quicker and more cost-effective than litigation which is commonly accepted as being a burden on people’s time, energy, and finances.