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Things To Keep In Mind About Parenting Arrangements
Following separation it is important to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for the care of your children. Such arrangements may include
- who your children live with;
- who your children spend time with, and for how long;
- what school your children attend;
- arrangements for school holidays and other special occasions such as Christmas, Easter and birthdays;
- who can make major and minor decisions on your child’s behalf; and
- specific issues such as medical treatment, travel and the issue of passports;
How to resolve children’s matters?
There are many services in the community designed to help people resolve their disputes concerning children without involving the Family Court.
Family Relationship Centres are located throughout the State and there is also a Family Relationships Advice Line for more information about dispute resolution services. These departments employ experienced family dispute resolution practitioners who successfully mediate suitable parenting arrangements.
Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) are a helpful source of information and confidential assistance. Although FRCs have a focus on enabling families to come to workable parenting arrangements outside the courts, they offer services that can also help strengthen relationships and deal with relationship difficulties.
The Court will not accept an application for children’s orders unless you can show that you have undergone compulsory Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), or you make an application for an exemption.
If FDR is unsuccessful, the FDR Practitioner may issue a certificate which is required to be filed at the time you file an application for children’s orders in the Family Court of Western Australia.
A parenting plan is a written agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for child/ren. The plan is worked out and agreed jointly and you and your former partner do not need to go to court.
Unless a court orders otherwise, you and your former partner can agree to change a parenting order by entering into a parenting plan.
A parenting plan is not a legally enforceable agreement. It is different from a parenting order, which is made by a Court.
A parenting plan is a cheap, efficient and effective method of resolving children’s matters
A parenting order is an order of the Family Court of Western Australia.
A parenting order can include orders as to:
- who the child will live with;
- how much time the child will spend with each parent and with other people, such as grandparents;
- how the parents will make major life decisionsfor the child;
- how the child will communicate with a parent they do not live with, or other people such as grandparents;
- any other aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child; and
- relocation of your child.
Unlike a parenting plan a parenting order is binding and enforceable. It can be enforced by the Family Court.
How to apply for Parenting Orders
The friendly and professional family lawyers at HFM Legal can assist you in negotiating, drafting and formalising parenting orders on your behalf. If required we can also represent you in Court although we try to avoid legal proceedings.
The legislation requires parents to make a genuine effort to reach an agreement through family dispute resolution before applying to the Family Court for orders.
Before applying for parenting orders, you must have attempted to reach an agreement. A copy of a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner must accompany the application.
How the Court Decides on Parenting Orders
When you can’t agree on appropriate parenting arrangements, the Family Court has to decide what is in the best interests of the child. This is the most important consideration when the Court makes parenting orders.
The aim is for children to enjoy a meaningful relationship with each of their parents, and to be protected from harm and family violence.
The focus is on the rights of children and the responsibilities that each parent has towards their children, rather than on parental rights.
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