Reaching an agreement on how your children will continue to be cared for after separation is the most important jobs facing parents when ending their marriage or de facto relationship. Research shows that ongoing exposure to conflict and family violence can harm your children’s developing brains. The stress associated with their parents fighting, even if the child isn’t directly attacked, is toxic for their emotional and physical development.
That is why According to the Family Law Act 1975, requires most parents to try to sort things out themselves through Family Dispute Resolution before they are allowed to go to Family Court. Getting a Final Order from the Family Court may take well over a year or more. The lawmakers don’t want your children exposed to the conflict between their parents for that amount of time if possible to avoid it by encouraging the parents to work out an arrangement for the care of their children.
Family Dispute Resolution is a respectful and empowering process facilitated by a mediator with post graduate studies in Family Law Mediation and accredited by the Australian Attorney Generals Department to do this work. Your Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner can help you to discuss your issues related to your children openly, respectfully and with a focus on reaching an agreement that is in the best interests of your child. A good plan is a unique response to best meet your families needs and circumstance.
If you find a solution that you both agree with, your FDR Practitioner can write out this agreement for you. This is known as a Parenting Agreement. We recommend that each parent get independent legal advice before signing and dating any agreement. Once an agreement is signed it becomes a Parenting Plan and may be considered by the court at a later date.
FDR cannot proceed if there are issues of family violence that would prevent you or your partner from negotiating and reaching agreement without coercion. If you are uncomfortable or unable to mediate in the same room your FDR Practitioner can offer Shuttle Mediation (where you are not in the same room), Video Conferencing (using a secure online call room) or Mediator Neutral Negotiation (FDR Negotiation – Telephone Shuttle).