FDR is tailored to the individual unique circumstances of each family focusing on the best interests of each child. The outcomes of FDR can include the following.
- Providing a forum to clarify parties’ views and interests.
- Illuminating and identifying points of difference – issues, ideas, interests.
- Agreements, (interim, partial or complete) including:
- “In principle’ or moral agreements – agreements about future arrangements for the children/property as decided by parties in the FDR session. Agreements made in FDR are not legally binding. These agreements form the basis of Parenting Plans and Consent Orders (Parenting or Property).
- For disputes involving children and parenting, FDR Parenting agreements can be developed into Parenting plans.
- “A parenting plan is an agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for children. A parenting plan covers the day-to-day responsibilities of each parent, the practical considerations of a child’s daily life, as well as how parents will agree and consult on important, long-term issues, such as which school’s children will attend.” Fact Sheet: Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner obligations to clients– updated January 2018, Commonwealth Attorney General’s department.
- Parenting plans can include means to modify or change arrangements, means to manage and/or resolve disagreements, and can include review dates. Parenting plans can also be renegotiated in the future as children’s needs change.
- A parenting plan is not a legally enforceable agreement, and is different from a parenting order, which is made by a court. Court orders are legally binding.
- If parents go to court at any time, the court will be required to consider the terms of the most recent parenting plan when making a parenting order in relation to a child, i.e. if it is in the best interests of the child.
- In order to be recognised by the court, a parenting plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents. It needs to be made free from any threat, duress or coercion.
- When considering the best interests of a child, the court will also consider the extent to which both parents have complied with their obligations in relation to the child, which may include the terms of a parenting plan.
- Parents or carers can take any agreements or plans to a family lawyer to have them made into Consent Orders (also called Parenting Orders) that can be lodged with the Family Court. The court will only make a consent order if it is satisfied that the terms of the plan are in the best interests of the child. These orders are legally enforceable.
- For disputes involving property or financial matters, parties can reach an agreement on how their property is to be divided between them. Parties can then decide the next steps to formalise these; whether providing this agreement to lawyers to document into Consent order and lodged with the Family Court, or by completing a prescribed Kit from the Family courts website.
- If there is no agreement on parenting matters, the FDRP may issue a certificate, to enable parties to seek legal advice about their options