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How can mediation assist me with making parenting agreements or a Parenting Plan or Draft Consent Orders with my ex-partner?
You and your ex-partner may be able to work out your parenting arrangements between yourselves. However, often a mediator is able to assist you in this process and to put the agreement to paper (click here for further information). An experienced mediator can assist you with identifying the issues, focusing on options to resolve these, and then reaching an agreement.
Child-Inclusive Mediation (also called Child-Informed Mediation) can assist with making decisions that are in the best interests of your child by an expert child psychologist providing feedback to you during the mediation after having consulted with your child.
Mediation can also be useful if a parent does not want to have contact with the child or make an agreement. Where the child does want to have contact with the other parent, mediation can be a way of encouraging the other parent to consider re-establishing their involvement in their child’s life.
If you are able to reach agreement with your ex-partner by the conclusion of the mediation, then you can record this agreement in one of two ways:
What is a Parenting Plan?
A Parenting Plan is the parents’ written agreement as to a range of issues involving the child, including but not limited to who the child lives with and spends time with, parental responsibility, decision making, and arrangements for the child. To be a Parenting Plan, it must be signed and dated by both parents. As there is no template or required form for a Parenting Plan, this means it is easy to prepare either by the parents or a mediator.
What are the advantages of a Parenting Plan?
An advantage of a Parenting Plan is that there are no costs involved (aside from mediation) to enter into a Parenting Plan, and it is also easy for the parents to change the Parenting Plan as the arrangements change to suit the needs of the child. All the parents need to do is enter into a new, signed Parenting Plan, and there are no costs involved with this. Further, a Parenting Plan provides the parents with a greater degree of control in deciding what is in their child’s best interests, as it does not need to be decided by or approved by the Family Court.
What are the disadvantages of a Parenting Plan?
One significant disadvantage to a Parenting Plan is that it is not legally binding. If one parent breaches the Parenting Plan, then the other parent cannot apply to the Family Court to enforce the Parenting Plan. Although it is not legally binding, it is important to note that if you do have a Parenting Plan in place but then wish to formalise it, or if you disagree about a matter or wish to change the Parenting Plan and the other parent does not agree to this, then if you go to the Family Court at a later date, the Parenting Plan will be taken into consideration by the Family Court, as long as it is in writing, was made voluntarily, and is signed and dated by both parents.
What are Consent Orders for children’s matters?
Consent Orders are a legally binding agreement. After a mediation where the parents have agreed on all the matters concerning the child, the parents are able to file the Draft Consent Orders with the Family Court to have it approved. This is done by simply submitting the Draft Consent Orders and an Application for Consent Orders to the Family Court for its consideration. The parents can engage solicitors to prepare this on their behalf.
If the Family Court is satisfied that the child’s best interests are met by the Draft Consent Orders, then Family Court will make orders, making the Draft Consent Orders into Consent Orders, which are legally binding. If either party contravenes (or breaches) the Consent Orders, then consequences may apply.
As Consent Orders are legally binding and have the same effect as Orders made at the Family Court after a trial, it is important that both parents seek independent legal advice, so that they can be sure that the Consent Orders will be in the best interests of the child.
What if my ex-partner and I don’t agree on parenting arrangements?
If, despite mediation, you and your ex-partner still do not agree on the parenting arrangements, then the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (or mediator) will provide you with a Section 60I certificate, which allows you to apply to the Family Court to make Parenting Orders. This involves filing an Initiating Application, and the decision as to what is in the best interests of your child will be decided by the Family Court instead of by you and your ex-partner.
Why should I attend mediation?
It is important to consider that, at the end of the day, the most important person to be affected by any agreements made is your child. Mediation is often a much less intimidating process for a child than a court process, where they may be interviewed by a Family Report Writer and an Independent Children’s Lawyer.
Separation of a child’s parents can be an extremely frightening and confusing event in a child’s life, and the process will usually be resolved much more quickly through mediation than through litigation, which can provide certainty and stability for a child in a very uncertain time.
As there is no “winner” or “loser” as can occur in court proceedings, using mediation to resolve any parenting disputes can assist with maintaining a civil and respectful co-parenting relationship, which benefits the child throughout their childhood and into their adult years.
To start the mediation process, simply complete the form:
More Information on Mediation & Family Dispute Resolution
- Family Dispute Resolution
- Parenting Plans
- Financial Agreements
- Child-Inclusive Mediation
- Section 60I Certificates
- Child Support
- Child Support Calculator
- De Facto Relationships & Separation
- Divorce & Mediation
- Grandparents & Mediation for Grandchildren
- Parenting Plan & Draft Consent Orders for Children
- Property Settlement at Mediation
- Mediation & Domestic Violence
- Relocation & Overseas Travel with a Child
- Going to the Family Court versus Mediation
- Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation
- Child Support & Mediation
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information. Professional legal advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances, because laws and regulations undergo frequent changes.