Mums and Dads Forever is a program that has been developed by Anglicare WA for the purpose of assisting parents and children that are in the process of family separation. Parents can attend this program voluntarily for their own information and development, or in some cases, the Family Court may make an Order for parties to attend the program during the course of Family Court Proceedings. The program assists parties by attempting to reduce conflict, promote meaningful and functional communication between separated parents, whilst also helping children come to terms with the separation.

The program offers group programs that educate and support separated parents. Group programs consist of regular two-hour sessions over a period of eight weeks. During these sessions, participants are encouraged to explore issues around separation and share strategies to reduce conflict with the other parent and to minimise the impact of separation on children. Ex-partners are not involved in the same group.

The service also offers up to four individual counselling sessions to parents who have attended or who are attending the group program.

For matters that relate to children’s issues, it is compulsory for parties to attend formal mediation. If matters cannot be agreed by way of mediation it is likely the parties will be issued with a Section 60i Certificate. A Section 60i Certificate provides each party with the option to commence Family Court Proceedings.

In some cases, where matters are urgent, children are at risk, or if there is a history of family violence, the Family Court will accept initiating documentation without a Section 60i Certificate.

Private Mediation

There are several individuals that conduct private mediation for matters at a reasonable cost.

Some private mediators are Family Law Practitioners, whilst some are not.

A traditional mediator does not advise on or make recommendations about the content or outcome of the dispute.

A list of available mediators is available on the AIFLAM website at http://www.aiflam.org.au/.

Mediation Style Conference

A Mediation-Style Conference is a structured mediation session that is usually conducted by an experienced Family Lawyer.

It is necessary that both parties are legally represented.

A Mediation-Style Conference differs from traditional mediation in that the mediator is usually a qualified Family Lawyer who may be asked, with the agreement of all parties, to express a view to the parties about the issues in dispute and or the range of possible outcomes.

The cost of a Mediation-Style Conference is usually shared between the parties, and can be in the vicinity of $1,800 – $3,750 per day.

During Family Court proceedings, the Family Court have the discretion to make an order for parties to attend a Mediation-Style Conference if they consider that the matter can be resolved more effectively in that manner.

Relationships Australia – Mediation

Mediation with Relationships Australia is a service provided at a nominal cost.

The process of mediation with Relationships Australia is as follows (as stated on their website):

  1. Contact the Relationships Australia office on (08) 9489 6313 to obtain more general information and arrange appointment times.
  2. Meet with a mediator separately; at this appointment the mediator will explain the process and assess how best to proceed with mediation.
  3. Meet with a mediator collectively; during the mediation session the mediator will assist the parties to explore the issues in dispute, develop options and negotiate possible outcomes, work out priorities, and find common ground.
  4. Summarise the agreements verbally or in writing and discuss appropriate next steps.

Sometimes not.

If financial and/or children’s issues can be agreed between the parties, then it is possible to file a Form 11 Application for Consent Orders to finalise matters without the need for either party to commence Family Court proceedings. Your Form 11 Application for Consent Orders is considered “in chambers” and then a sealed order will be issued if the requested terms are deemed acceptable.

If there are issues that cannot be resolved by way of negotiation between the parties, their lawyers or through a form of alternative dispute resolution or mediation, then it may be necessary for you to commence Family Court proceedings.

If this is the case, then our experienced professional staff will discuss the options available to you, and provide you with an estimate of the costs you may incur. 

Your initial interview with us is obligation free. This means that you are not obliged to engage us as your legal representatives beyond this initial interview, unless you specifically instruct us to do so.

We require upfront payment for this interview; it is suggested you have sufficient funds available for a 1.5 hour appointment.

Any necessary legal advice or representation beyond this initial interview is subject to our office being provided with a signed Retainer Agreement and an appropriate deposit of funds into our trust account. Details of this arrangement will be discussed at the conclusion of your initial interview.

Please contact our friendly administration staff to book an initial appointment.

In order to attain the maximum benefit from your initial appointment, we suggest you bring as much information available to you, which may include but is not limited to the following: 

Children’s Issues

  1. Copies of any current Child Support Agency (CSA) assessments;
  2. Details of current living arrangements for the children;
  3. Details of any health issues or education issues; and
  4. Copies of any previous court orders, court documents, parenting plans or any other documentation regarding agreed arrangements for the children.

Financial Issues

  1. Estimated values of any real estate in which you or your ex-partner/spouse have an interest, either in your sole names or in joint names;
  2. Estimated value of any antiques, artwork, collections, etc. that you or your ex-partner own;
  3. Estimated second-hand value of furniture and chattels in each partner’s possession;
  4. Estimated values of shares or investments in either partner’s name;
  5. Current bank balances of all bank accounts held jointly or in either partner’s name;
  6. Second hand values of motor vehicles owned by each partner;
  7. Most recent superannuation statement or financial statement for self-managed superannuation funds;
  8. Copies of mortgages or personal loans held jointly or in either partner’s name;
  9. Balances of any outstanding credit card debts held jointly or in either partner’s name;
  10. Balances of any outstanding tax liabilities in either partner’s name;
  11. Copies of any current Child Support Agency (CSA) Assessment;
  12. Any other relevant documentation or information.

Other

Where relevant:

  1. A copy of your Marriage Certificate;
  2. Copies of any court documentation from other Courts, such as Restraining Orders etc.
  3. Birth Certificates of any children (particularly if they are the children of a de facto relationship).

In some cases, it is not possible for either party to move out of the matrimonial home following separation.   In legal terms, this is called a one-roof separation.

The issue of a one-roof separation may particularly become relevant when parties make application for Divorce. One of the requirements for the issue of a Divorce Order, is that the parties have been separated for a period of 12 months or longer.

If you have been separated under the same roof for a period of time after separation, then you will need to complete a separate affidavit in support of your Divorce Application that establishes evidence of a change in your relationship that shows you and your spouse have separated.

Helpful evidence may include (but not be limited to):

  • A change in sleeping arrangements;
  • A reduction in shared activities or family outings;
  • A decline in performing household duties for each other;
  • A division of finances; for example, separate bank accounts; and
  • Any other matters that show the marriage has broken down; for example, if you have notified family and friends of your separation, an email or text message exchange between you and your spouse.

Our experienced professional team can assist you in providing advice and completing the appropriate documentation.

Unfortunately not.

The Legal Profession Conduct Rules (2010) require legal practitioners to avoid any conflict of interest with regard to legal representation and advice provided to clients.

It is therefore not possible for one lawyer to represent or/advise two parties for the same matter.

In this situation, it would be necessary for us to represent one party and for the other party to obtain their own independent legal advice.

If the separation is amicable, then sometimes parties will agree for one spouse to obtain legal advice and facilitate the drafting of a Form 11 Application for Consent Orders on behalf of both parties.