Parenting Arrangements

Resolve your parenting arrangements including custody, contact, specific issues, child support and relocation.

Parenting Arrangements

Can’t reach an agreement about your parenting dispute? – you’ll need to attend compulsory family dispute resolution before you can apply to the family court for a parenting order

When a relationship breaks down, making arrangements for your children can be difficult. Sometimes, it is just too hard to do by yourselves. Emotions often get in the way and discussions about practical arrangements get lost in the hurt and anger. And when you do manage to discuss them, most people are feeling less than reasonable or fair than usual.

The majority of parents, do, however, make their own parenting arrangements. Others need the assistance of a mediator, also known as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, to help them have a constructive discussion in a safe and respectful environment, about the practical arrangements.

Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution with an Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) is now mandatory.

You can no longer issue an application for a parenting order in the family court unless you have attended mediation and obtained an S 60I Certificate. You can view a copy of the court brochure Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution – Court Procedures and Requirements, which sets out the procedures and requirements for Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution in family law proceedings.

There are however exceptions to compulsory attendance. These include:

  • where there has been, or there is a risk of family violence
  • where there has been, or there is a risk of child abuse or
  • where the matter is extremely urgent.

That is not to say, however, that parties are unable to mediate, but it is only appropriate if adequate safeguards are in place for all parties concerned. So, for example, mediation could be conducted by telephone, online or by way of a shuttle mediation (i.e. when each of you is separated, are in different rooms and do not come into contact with each other).

Our screening process will determine whether mediation is suitable if any of the above apply.

Mediation can help you resolve all sorts of parenting arrangements that affect you and your family. Examples include:
  • Spending Time (commonly known as Contact Arrangements): How much time your child should spend with the other parent or significant other, for example, a grandparent
  • Live With (commonly known as Custody Arrangements): Where your child should live and with whom
  • Specific Issues: What school your child should attend, medical treatments that your child should have or religion to be followed
  • Special Days: When and with whom your child should spend special days with including school holidays, birthdays and Christmas for example
  • Relocation: Where your child should live and how spending time with the other parent is to be facilitated where such a move requires relocating interstate or to another country
The role of the FDRP/Mediator will help you put your feelings aside and focus on the practical arrangements that need to be sorted out. The Mediator won’t take sides or provide legal advice but will help you work out what is best for your child and how that can be achieved. The mediation is a child-focused but your child will not be involved in the mediation process.

Most parents record the terms of their agreement in one of two ways:

  • Parenting Plan – A parenting plan is a flexible agreement setting out the arrangements that you’ve made, for your child. It’s not legally binding and works best where there is mutual respect and understanding with one another and is based on goodwill between the parties.
  • Consent Order – If a legally binding agreement is required, you can choose to have the agreement drafted as a Consent Order. This can then be filed with the family court.

Its’ worth remembering that 85% of cases settle. In the event that agreement cannot be reached, then at our discretion, we will issue an S 60I Certificate. You can then make an application to the family court. You can view a copy of an S 60I Certificate.

An S 60I Certificate can be issued in the following circumstances:

  • The other party did not attend
  • Both parties attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • Both parties attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • The FDRP/Mediator decided your case was not appropriate for Family Dispute Resolution or
  • The FDRP/Mediator decided it was not appropriate to continue partway through the family dispute resolution process

“The kids are definitely happier now. They know when they are seeing Barry and we aren’t arguing anymore. They seem a lot more settled now. I found the mediator, professional and impartial. The mediator helped us work things out on a practical level and to do that, we had had to put aside our feelings we had towards each other and focus on the kids….it wasn’t easy but we had to do it for our kids.”

Susan
Read Susan’s Story

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