In nearly all cases, parenting proceedings cannot be commenced in a Court unless you first participate in family dispute resolution (FDR). This is the process of mediation to help separating parents discuss proposals for parenting arrangements and practical decisions that they will have to make in the future concerning their children including:
- Where the children will live,
- When they will see each parent or other members of their families,
- Where they will go to school
- How major long term decisions will be decided
- Whether the children can travel overseas.
If you reach an agreement through Family Dispute Resolution you can either formalise your agreement through Consent Orders made by a Court, or you can have an informal agreement such as a parenting plan (which is not enforceable by a Court if it is breached).
In circumstances where there has been family violence or there is urgency due to either a risk to the child’s welfare or if a parent is intending or has removed a child from their usual town, state or country of residence you may be able to apply for an exemption to the requirement to participate in FDR.