Family dispute resolution – when you are your former spouse have trouble agreeing to parenting arrangements
If you have separated and have children under the age of 18 years and have a dispute with your spouse as to the arrangements for the children, for example, on where they are to live and who they are to spend time with, then the first thing you should do (other than obtain legal advice) is to contact a family dispute resolution practitioner.
The dispute resolution practitioner would first schedule a one-on-one intake interview with you. They would then contact your former spouse/partner and organise for him/her to have a one-on-one intake interview. After that, they would schedule a joint session where both you and your former spouse/partner attempt, with the help of the dispute solution practitioner, to resolve the dispute. If you are successful at resolving the dispute, you may enter into a Parenting Plan on the day.
A Parenting Plan is an agreement between you and your former spouse/partner which deals with who the children are to live with and when they are to spend time with the other parent. It may include agreement about schooling, parental responsibility, communication with the children, maintenance of the children and any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child. A Parenting Plan may be varied or revoked by a further written agreement.
However, a Parenting Plan is not legally enforceable. If the Parenting Plan is registered, it may be set aside, discharged, varied or suspended by the Court. Therefore, if you have a Parenting Plan, our advice is to have a solicitor draft Court Consent Orders based on the Parenting Plan for the parties to sign and file at the Family Court. If the Family Court has approved of and made the Orders, the Orders are then legally enforceable.
If you and your former spouse/partner are unsuccessful in resolving the dispute, the dispute resolution practitioner would issue both parties with what is known as a section 60I certificate. Before making an application to the Court to determine a parenting dispute, the Court requires that the applicant files the section 60I certificate to demonstrate that the applicant has attempted to resolve the dispute by way of family dispute resolution, but was unsuccessful and now requires the Court to determine the dispute.
This is a list of suggested family dispute resolution practitioners that you may seek assistance from:
- Bayside Mediation: http://www.baysidemediation.com.au/about%20us.htm
- Relationships Australia: https://www.relationships.org.au/
- Lifeworks: https://lifeworks.com.au/
Contact us at (03) 9555 7233 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to our lawyers to assist you with Court orders in regards to parenting arrangements.
This article provides information that is general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice.