When a relationship breaks down, it is extremely important to ensure that the children’s needs are addressed.
We have been helping families to resolve children’s issues for many years and ensure that options are canvased to reach agreement, such as:
If both parties reach an agreement as to the care of their children, they can enter into a Parenting Plan (either themselves, or through Family Dispute Resolution). We are able to provide legal advice and assistance with respect to all children’s issues.
A Parenting Plan might include information as to where the children will live, with whom they will spend time, school and childcare arrangements, medical issues and other issues.
Parenting Plans can be changed at any time by agreement. A Parenting Plan provides flexibility to separated couples where changes might be needed from time to time.
Whilst they are flexible, a Parenting Plan is not legally binding.
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
Where parties are not able to reach agreement themselves as to the care of their children, they will generally participate in Family Dispute Resolution.
It is a requirement of the Family Law Act that parties engage in FDR before they can bring any application to the Family Court to resolve disputes about children.
There are exceptions to the need to engage in FDR before issuing Court proceedings where, for example, there has been family violence or the children are at risk.
We encourage all separating parties to attend mediation/FDR which enables people to reach agreement on what might be difficult issues without incurring cost or relying on the Court to make decisions with respect to their children.
If parties can reach an agreement with respect to parenting issues, they can choose to have the agreement formalised by way of Consent Order for children’s issues. Unlike Parenting Plans, Court Orders can be enforced and are legally binding. However, Court Orders can be difficult to change (and this is a matter which you would need to discuss with one of our family lawyers).
If parties cannot reach agreement with respect to the children, after they have attended FDR they will be entitled to apply to the Court for orders about their children. Again, you do not need to attend FDR if your application is urgent.
In cases where parties cannot agree, the Court will be left to decide what is in the best interests of the children, what orders are appropriate in respect of their care and other matters.
We have helped many families with respect to their children’s issues – whether assisting in reaching agreement, parenting plans or Court Orders. We encourage you to seek legal advice at the earliest time with respect to children’s issues and invite you to contact us to talk to one of our family law practitioners about your matter.
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Our team of experienced family lawyers can help with all matters relating to the breakdown of a de facto relationship including separation, parenting/children’s issues, property division, superannuation splitting, spousal maintenance, property preservation orders and other orders, please contact us today.
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Our Family Law team