The law encourages parents and other people interested in the welfare of the children to come to an agreement on arrangements for children.
If both parents agree, this arrangement can be formally written down as a parenting plan, which can be made legally binding by lodging it with the court as consent orders.
If both parents disagree they may have to try family dispute resolution. (FDRC) If this doesn’t work an application can be made to the court for a parenting order.
Parenting orders and consent orders are legally binding and there may be serious consequences if the orders are breached.
Family dispute resolution means trying to reach an agreement about your family law problems without going to court.
Family dispute resolution services are available at any time in your relationship, including before, during or after a separation or once a court case has begun. They can be used to resolve disputes about:
With only a few exceptions, the Court requires you to attend an FDRC before you can file for parenting orders.
Those exceptions are:
Section 60I(9) of the Family Law Act 1975 (the Family Law Act) lists the exceptions to the requirement to attempt family dispute resolution Conference (FDRC) before making an application for a Part VII order. Some of the main exceptions are as follows:
1. where a person is applying for procedural orders, interim orders or consent orders
2. where the matter is urgent
3. if the court has reasonable grounds to believe that:
a. family violence or child abuse has occurred, or
b. there is a risk of violence or child abuse if there was to be a delay
4. where it is not practical for the person to participate in FDR, for example, incapacity, physical remoteness or some other reason
5. where a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
The Family Law Act does not define what an ‘urgent’ matter is or what ‘serious disregard’ is. It will be a matter for the presiding judicial officer, to decide if one of these exceptions applies.
If the FDRC practitioner believes that it is not appropriate to conduct an FDRC, they can provide a certificate to that effect. FDRC practitioners can issue section 60I certificates even if an exception might apply. If a certificate is not provided then it is up to you to inform the Court by way of an Affidavit as to whey you do not need to attend an FDRC on the matter.