When parties with children separate they may be able to make an agreement between themselves in regard to the care and welfare and parenting arrangements of their children. For other parents, where there is disagreement in respect of parenting arrangements, the law requires them to attend family dispute resolution, which is also known as mediation. This is a compulsory requirement before parents can embark on seeking parenting orders to be made by the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
If the parents are able to reach consensus at mediation they may enter into a “parenting plan” which they both sign. A parenting plan can include: details such as where children are to live; both arrangements for special days and holidays; and how parents will consult with each other in regard to long term decisions affecting their children.
A parenting plan can later be made into consent orders where both parties agree to file an application for consent orders in the court. A lawyer can prepare parenting orders on your behalf.
There are some situations where mediation is unsuitable. For example, where there are safety concerns, where there is a high degree of conflict between the parties, or if there are significant concerns about children being exposed to family violence, abuse or neglect when they are in the care of the other parent. Legal advice should be sought as to whether an application to the court should be made as a matter of urgency in these circumstances.
Further, there will always be cases where parenting orders are required.
Parenting orders are legally enforceable.
A parent who intentionally fails to comply with a parenting order, or who makes no reasonable attempt to comply with such an order, can be found to have contravened the court orders. Penalties for contravening parenting orders may include a significant fine or even a period of imprisonment.
All parenting arrangements, whether imbued in a parenting plan or in court orders, must always regard the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. All parents should do their utmost to enter into negotiations with each other with this principle firmly in mind.
At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you with parenting matters and any other family law matter because Helping You is Our Business.
Click here to learn more about Sophie Newham.