When you separate, your children should be your priority and it is important to organise parenting arrangements as soon as possible so there is stability and a continuation of the children's care and their relationships with their parents.
Sorting out an agreement between you and your spouse/partner is usually the best option. It is quicker, less stressful and less confrontational that going to Court and children are likely to cope better when they know their parents/caregivers are working together.
You can reach an agreement orally or in writing but unless the agreement is submitted to the court to be made into a Parenting Order the agreement will not be legally binding.
Agreements in writing are the best option as they provide clarity and detail. The Parenting Plan form is particularly useful as it is something you can work through together with your spouse/partner and it refers to care arrangements for special dates/occasions such as school holidays and Christmas.
Once a written agreement has been completed you can file this in the Family Court to get a Parenting Order by Consent. The Court filing fee for this is $220.
If you are unable to agree on care arrangements then there are two compulsory steps you have to complete before you can ask the Court to make a Parenting Order. These are:
1. Parenting Through Separation
Parenting Through Separation is a free parenting course which provides you practical advice and skills to help you understand and manage the needs of your child(ren) following separation.
2. Family Disputes Resolution
A Family Disputes Resolution is a form of mediation service that can help you and your spouse/partner to reach an agreement. The sessions are run by an impartial mediator who will help you identify the issues and facilitate discussion focused on what is best for the child(ren).
The mediator cannot force you to agree or make a decision for you, and you can bring a support person if everyone agrees.
You can search for Parenting Through Separation and Family Disputes Resolution providers on the Justice website.
If after attending a Family Disputes Resolution you are still unable to agree then you will need to file an application in the Family Court for a Parenting Order.
Without Notice Applications
You can bypass the steps above and get matters before the Court quickly by filing a without notice application where there are safety concerns or a risk of undue hardship.
Contact us to begin making arrangements for the care of your children.