Friday, March 11, 2011

COMPULSORY FAMILY DISPUTE RESOLUTION (FDR) IN CHILDREN OR PARENTING CASES

Importantly, before you can apply to the Family Court for any order in relation to children or parenting issues, you must first try to resolve this matter with the other parent by Family Dispute Resolution (referred to as “FDR” - ie, Mediation).

There are only limited exceptions to this, which apply in circumstances of violence or abuse to you or the child.

Get FDR Underway Now

The process of Family Dispute Resolution (ie, Mediation) takes several weeks to organize, and demand for publically funded services is great. If you have not engaged in FDR with the other parent, and something happens where you urgently need an order from the Family Court – you may have to wait until this completed before you can do anything.

Even if things between you and your partner are working well so far as the children are concerned, we suggest that you get this underway regardless.

Get A Certificate To Show You Have Done FDR

Anyone seeking a parenting order from the Family Court of WA must attempt to negotiate a settlement before the Family Court will accept their application. This process is called ‘Family Dispute Resolution’, and it is compulsory.

In order to make an application for a parenting order with the Family Court you will need to present one of the following documents when you come to file your Family Court application:

·                A Certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

OR

·           An Exemption Form (Prepared By Your Lawyer, in cases of Violence or Abuse to You Or Your Child).

To see if you qualify for an exemption, refer to the ‘Claiming an Exemption’ section on page two of this letter.

You will not be able to file an application for a parenting order or any orders in relation to children unless you can show a certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner OR your Exemption Form is approved by the Court

What is Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution?

Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution is a process separating families must undergo before they can make an application to the Court. It gives you an opportunity to resolve your dispute without having to pay for an expensive Family Court proceedings.

FDR services come in many forms, but generally involve Mediation provided by a Registered FDR Provider. Not every Mediation or Counselling Service is a Registered FDR Service – so make sure that when you arrange any kind of Mediation or Counselling that the service provider is a Registered FDR Service.

If you participate in dispute resolution with a practitioner who is not registered, you will not get a certificate and may not be able to apply to the Court without more dispute resolution.

You can obtain more information, and get help arranging your dispute resolution, from the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321.

If you fail to reach an agreement at your dispute resolution session, or the other party fails to attend, you will be issued with a certificate which will allow you to commence an application for a parenting order in the Family Court.

What Happens After FDR?

What happens after dispute resolution depends on whether you have managed to come to an agreement with the other party.

IF AN AGREEMENT IS REACHED: 

If an agreement is reached during dispute resolution, you and other party may enter into a Parenting Plan or apply to the Family Court for a Consent Order.

Parenting plans are written agreements between the parties setting out parenting arrangements for children:

·         They do not need to be approved by the Court.

·         They are not legally binding.

·         They can be changed by agreeing to a new Parenting Plan.

·         For more information on Parenting Plans go to www.familyrelationships.gov.au

A Consent order is a written agreement between the parties that is approved by the Court and has the same effect as a Court Order:

·         They need to be submitted to the Court for approval.

·         They are legally binding.

·         In most cases they cannot be changed without making an application to the Court.

·         To get a Consent Order Kit:

·         􀂃 go to www.familycourt.wa.gov.au

·         􀂃 call 08 9224 8222, or visit the Family Court of WA registry.



IF NO AGREEMENT IS REACHED OR YOUR PARTNER WILL NOT PARTICIPATE OR ATTEND FDR

If no agreement can be reached at FDR, or if your partner will not attend or will not participate, then you may have no choice but to commence legal proceedings in the Family Court.

BUT you will need a Certificate from the FDR Practitioner to confirm that you have participated in FDR.

We suggest that you get the FDR certificate, whether you are successful or not – if something happens later, you can take it to court straight away.

Enclosed are some of the publically funded FDR services. Some lawyers set themselves up as specialist FDR Practitioners, and we can refer you to these if you wish.

If you need more information about what you need to do before you can apply to the Family Court of WA contact the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321.

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