When a relationship breaks down and there are children under the age of 18 involved the Court will have regard to the best interests of the children. The best interest consideration is central to all children’s matters.
If you separate from your partner and you have children under 18 years of age, the family law system requires you and your partner to make a genuine effort to resolve any parenting disputes through family dispute resolution (FDR) before involving the Courts. If you are unable to resolve your dispute through FDR with an accredited dispute resolution practitioner, the practitioner will give you a certificate to say that you attempted resolution. This is commonly known as a “Section 60I Certificate”. In most circumstances, copy of this certificate must be provided to the Court as proof that you have attempted to resolve your dispute through FDR.
There are some circumstances, for example in matters of urgency or where there is a history of family violence, where it may not be appropriate or possible for parties to attend FDR. We can discuss with you whether in your case you may be granted an exemption by the Court.
If you and your partner can reach an agreement through family dispute resolution you can have a parenting plan drafted to record the terms of your agreement or you can apply to the Court for consent orders which are legally binding, unlike a parenting plan. We can help you decide which is the most appropriate in your circumstances.