Options for Formalising Child Care Arrangements Following Separation
Upon separation, there are several options available to you as to how you formalise ongoing care arrangements for your children.
If there are safety concerns for your child, for example, if they are exposed to violence, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption or neglect, then an urgent Parenting Order can be applied for without the 'unsafe' party being told of the application. The Court would then consider the merits of the application, and, if the Court considers it to be in the best interests and welfare of a child(ren) then the Parenting Order will be made on a temporary basis.
The 'unsafe' party will then be given the opportunity to respond to the application before the Court makes a final decision.
No Safety Concerns
If there are no safety concerns for a child(ren), you cannot apply to the Family Court straight away to have the matter determined. Instead, parties are encouraged to try to negotiate and formalise care arrangements by way of the following:
1. Directly between the parents:
a) You come to your own arrangements and implement them. This approach often works in amicable separations.
2. With the assistance of a lawyer(s) with a view of having the arrangements drafted into a Parenting Agreement or Parenting Order by Consent:
a) We can assist you with negotiating ongoing care arrangements for a child(ren);
b) Once there is agreement, we can prepare a Parenting Agreement, or Parenting Order by Consent;
(i) Parenting Agreements are a contract. They are typically preferred by parties who simply need the agreements recorded in writing as a guide. Effectively, there are no implications should someone breach the terms of the Parenting Agreement.
(ii) Parenting Orders by consent are Orders made by the Court, but with agreement of both parties. There can be serious implications should someone breach the terms of an Order.
3. Attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR):
a) FDR is a mediation service without lawyers being involved;
b) We can help you prepare for this and also be available by telephone should you need to contact us for advice during the mediation;
c) If an agreement is reached at FDR, the agreed terms will be recorded by way of mediated Agreement, which can then be turned into a Parenting Order by Consent if necessary;
d) In the event that there is no agreement reached, or a party does not participate, then parties can apply to the Family Court to have the matter determined.
If you believe you need assistance with reaching an agreement and formalising the care arrangements for your child(ren), then please do not hesitate to get in touch here.