If you want to apply to the Family Courts you will need to provide information to demonstrate that one of the exceptions applies to you. If you use the exception relating to family violence or child abuse, you will also need to get information about your options and the services that can help you from a family counsellor or Family Dispute Resolution practitioner.
Who can go to Family Dispute Resolution?
Usually only the people directly involved unless everyone agrees that other interest people can attend. In private processes the lawyers of the parties may also attend. However in the case of government sponsored family relationship centres lawyers are not included.
What information will a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner provide you with?
Before you start Family Dispute Resolution, your Family Dispute Resolution practitioner must tell you about the Family Dispute Resolution process, your rights (including your right to complain about the service), his or her qualifications, and the fees charged. If you are trying to resolve a disagreement about your children, the Family Dispute Resolution practitioner must give you information about parenting plans and other services available to help you.
What happens during Family Dispute Resolution?
Before Family Dispute Resolution can commence, the family dispute resolution practitioner will assess the circumstances to see whether Family Dispute Resolution is suitable for your situation.
Family Dispute Resolution practitioners are impartial and will not take sides. They can help you to explore family issues in an objective and positive way. Family Dispute Resolution concentrates on resolving specific disputes but it is not counselling. Family Dispute Resolution can help both of you to discuss issues, look at options, and work out how best to reach agreement. Importantly,
you can use Family Dispute Resolution to develop a parenting plan to set out arrangements for your children.
What happens if an agreement is reached during Family Dispute Resolution?
If you reach agreement on arrangements for your children, this can be recorded as a parenting plan. A parenting plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents to be effective and recognised under the Family Law Act. Sometimes after a parenting plan is made one or both parties want to have consent orders made. If this is the case then that application can be made to the Courts but not during the mediation process.
Before applying to court you will need a certificate from an accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioner.
The certificate will say one of the following:
You should be aware that if you do not attend Family Dispute Resolution or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your court hearing. The court may also order you to pay the other party’s legal costs.
Mediation assists families to resolve issues regarding arrangements for their children in a collaborative way. The parents are assisted to create an agreement which they themselves have created and agreed upon. The alternative is to apply to court and obtain a decision from a person (the Judge) who does not know nor love your children. Which makes more sense to you?