Separation can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life, particularly when there are children involved. In order to make the separation process a bit easier, we have compiled a list of practical steps to take when you are trying to sort out parenting arrangements with your ex-partner.
- Try and discuss parenting arrangements with your ex-partner. Focus on what is in the best interests of your children and what will work for your family. Remember every family is different and what works for one family may not work for the other!
- Make an appointment to see a solicitor for an initial consultation. This will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your matter and receive advice about how the law works, your rights and your entitlements. At the very least, this will enable you to make informed decisions about what is best for your children moving forward.
- Book in for mediation. There are some services, such as Relationships Australia, that conduct mediation free of charge or for a reduced fee. Alternatively, you can book in for mediation with an experienced family law mediator for a fee.
- If mediation is successful and you reach an agreement with your ex-partner about parenting arrangements, you should contact your solicitor to have your agreement drafted into Consent Orders. Whilst a mediator will assist you in drafting a Parenting Plan, this document is not legally enforceable which is why we recommend you have your agreement drafted into legally binding and enforceable Orders.
- If mediation is unsuccessful either because you and your ex-partner were unable to reach an agreement or because your ex-partner would not engage in the mediation process, then you will be issued a Section 60i Certificate. This is a Certificate that allows you to commence Court proceedings if necessary. If you are issued with a certificate, you should contact your solicitor to discuss the options available to you
It is important to remember that mediation is not suitable for every separated couple. If there is a history of family violence in your relationship, it is most likely that a mediator will issue you with a Certificate without you having to attend mediation. In such circumstances, you should contact your solicitor. This process is in place to protect victims of family violence from ongoing abuse.