The first step is to get some initial legal advice. This will help you better understand the law surrounding parenting of children in post-separation situations and give you an idea on what arrangements might be appropriate for you and your family. An initial consultation with one of our solicitors is $200 (inclusive of GST) for approximately one-hour of advice specific to your circumstances.
The next step is to participate, or attempt to participate, in Family Dispute Resolution (mediation). This step is usually mandatory unless there are exceptional circumstances such as family violence or urgency. If mediation is unsuccessful then you will be provided with a Certificate that then allows you to file an application with the Family Courts any time in the following 12-month period. However, before you consider filing an application we strongly suggest you seek further legal advice to discuss other options that may be available to you, including further mediation or negotiation with the assistance of a lawyer.
When you do reach an agreement about your children, you should document that agreement so that you have something to refer back to. There are two main types of written parenting arrangements:
- Parenting Plan – an agreement reached between parents (usually with the assistance of a mediator and/or lawyers) about who the children will live with, who they will spend time with and how the parents will otherwise deal with the care of their children. Parenting plans are not legally enforceable but are often a great option for those is more amicable situations or in early stages.
- Consent Orders – a legally binding and enforceable parenting agreement that is filed with and approved by the Court. We strongly suggest the involvement of solicitors before filing for consent orders as there are strict laws limiting the ability to change orders (unless by consent) into the future and so you want to ensure you have everything covered.
You should keep in mind that a written parenting plan and/or consent orders is a fall-back position. If you and your child’s other parent want to come up with different arrangements from time to time then you are able to do that, having the written agreement to fall back on if you have future disagreements.
Court is usually reserved for urgent matters or as a last resort when negotiations break down.
Urgent situations might occur when one parent is not spending time with a child, where one parent has moved away with the child without the other parent’s permission, where one party is threatening to travel overseas with a child or where there is risk of harm to the child. If you simply cannot reach an agreement about parenting arrangements, sometimes it is necessary to seek the Court’s assistance.
Our solicitors are very experienced in court matters and whether you are an applicant to proceedings, or a respondent, we can help and guide you through this process.
There are a number of considerations to be made when determining a parenting agreement including the best interests of the child, protection from harm, any history of family violence, any cultural background, any misuse of drugs and alcohol by either parent, a child’s wishes, parental capacity and more.
The team at Insight Legal Solutions can help you better understand how all of these considerations interact and to work out what is important in your particular matter. We can then assist you with mediation, negotiation, documentation of any agreement reached and, if necessary, represent you in Court proceedings.