In a lot of the parenting/children cases that come to our office, the first question is often, “How do we get to court?”. Going to Court straight away has some benefits in some cases, but usually you will have to follow a few key steps.
Under the Family Law Act, parents who want to file for parenting Orders (where do the children live etc) in the Court have to comply with pre-action procedures. These procedures are many and involve you and the other party being provided with the correct information about going to Court. However a crucial step that clients often do not know about is compulsory Family Dispute Resolution or its more common name mediation.
A Court will not accept an application for Parenting Orders unless you can provide a Certificate from the mediator saying you have attempted mediation with the other parent. Mediators have 5 different reasons they can use to justify giving you such a certificate:
- One or both of you did not attend mediation;
- One or both of you did not go to mediation because the mediator thought it would not be appropriate (more on this later);
- Both of you went to mediation, made a “genuine effort” to come to an agreement, but did not come to an agreement;
- Both of you went to mediation, but one parent did not make a “genuine effort” to come to an agreement;
- Both of you went to mediation, but the mediator stopped the mediation because the mediator thought it would not be appropriate.
The idea behind having to go to mediation is to force parents to try and come to an agreement outside of Court and ultimately save everyone a lot of money.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. The most common are:
- The parents are applying for Orders together by consent;
- There is a risk of family violence or child abuse occuring if going to Court is delayed;
- Or the circumstances/facts are urgent and need immediate attention from the Court.
The beginning of family law cases are difficult to understand by yourself. Call Michell Meares, Accredited Family Law Specialist today on 4324 7699 for a free confidential chat on the phone.