In most cases, it is appropriate for separated parties to attend mediation to explore the possibilities of reaching agreement in relation to ongoing shared parenting of their children. Not every matter needs to go to court for resolution.
How can I agree with my ex about our parenting arrangements?
There are several ways that you can reach agreement with your ex-partner following separation as to how you co-parent which include:
What happens if we can’t agree?
It often occurs that after some effort, parents cannot see eye to eye on what parenting arrangement they will have in place post separation. In these cases, the court may need to interfere and make judicial decisions for the parties. It is important to note that the court is not bound by the parties competing proposals and can make orders that are not in line with either parent’s wishes.
Prior to commencing proceedings, the parties need to have attempted mediation from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and a certificate needs to have been issued and annexed to the application to court. There are exceptions to this rules in cases of emergency or family violence.
What does the court consider important when it comes to parenting matters?
When making decisions about children the court consider what is in the best interest of the child as the most important factor. It is not about what the parents are entitled to or what is fair in the circumstances.
The overall purpose of the Family Law system is to ensure the child has the benefit of both his/her parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives, by protecting them from physical and psychological harm, ensuring that they have adequate and proper parenting to achieve their full potential and ensuring that parents fulfil their duties and responsibilities as parents.
If it is in the best interest of the child, the court will order that both parents have equal shared parental responsibility (ESPR) for the child. This relates to long term decisions about the care and welfare of the child.
ESPR may not be possible if the parents are in high conflict and cannot communicate effectively regarding the children’s needs and welfare. Certainly in cases where there is violence, ESPR may not be ordered.
How does the court work out what is in the best interest of the child?
The court takes into consideration certain factors outlined in the Family Law Act. Some of these are;
Each case is considered on its own merits and the court has wide discretion to determine the case.
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