Family Mediation For Parenting Plans
The Family Dispute Resolution process, formerly known as Family Mediation, is a less confrontational means to reaching agreement for a Parenting Plan.
Going to Court can be an emotionally and financially draining experience. It therefore benefits all parties and in particular the children, if a Parenting Plan can be reached more amicably.
After separation, it is unnecessary to go to Court for decisions to be made about the care if your children.
You and your former partner can make your own decisions with or without the intervention of a third party. The best case scenario is if you and the other parent can come to an arrangement that works for everyone (in particular the children).
If you are unable to do this because of high conflict, then you may engage a Family Law Solicitor or a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
It is now mandatory to attend Family Dispute Resolution if you wish to approach the Family Court.
A Parenting Plan is an agreement created by two parents, signed and dated. This agreement may be all that is necessary. However, a Parenting Plan is NOT legally binding.
If you and your former partner wish to have a legally binding agreement, then you need to apply for Consent Orders. This can be done through your solicitor or by completing a form available for this purpose to be registered at the Family Court.
Parenting Decision-Making Checklist
The following is a checklist of decisions you may need to make with the other parent. Considering these will make life easier for you and your children. It is important to remain flexible and keep focused on the best interests of your child/children. You may like to agree on the easy things first and return to the hard decisions later.
Where will the children live?
- Public holidays
- During school holidays
- Over Christmas and other special days
- If you are sick
- If your child is sick
How Will You Arrange:
- Pick-ups and drop-offs
- Birthdays or other cultural/religious events
- Attendance at special events like school sports day. Can you both go?
- Contact with grandparents and other extended family
- Contact and overnight stays with the children’s friends
- Calls/emails from one parent while the child is with their other parent
- Transport arrangements: between home/to school/dance/sport etc.
- Child support
Where Will They Attend:
- Church/mosque/temple/synagogue or other spiritual/religious place
- Other activities
Who Will Pay For The Children's:
- Transport between your homes
- Local taxis/buses/trains
- Health care/health insurance/dentist and orthodontist/glasses/contact lenses/counselling, etc
- Child care
- School fees/tuition/books
- Extracurricular activities/excursions/socials/pocket money
- Long distant transport, air fares/trains/buses
- Other expenses
How Will You Share Information:
- School communications/reports/photos
- Medical records including details of any medication
- Information on visits to doctor/dentist/counsellors etc
- Information on important events: sporting/religious/special activities/news of extended family etc
Try To Agree:
- To share phone numbers in case you need to contact children
- To inform the other parent about any changes to important phone numbers
- How to make changes to any of these arrangements
- To work towards a consistent approach to discipline
Are You Willing To Refrain From:
- Putting the other parent down to the children
- Making big changes like moving house, changing schools without prior discussion
- Planning activities during the other parent’s time
- Making decisions that have important cultural or religious implications
- Arguing in front of the children
Christine Bennett offers Family Dispute Resolution and Relationship Counselling in Crows Nest, Central Coast NSW and online.