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Mediation and Your Family Law Dispute

Mediation and Your Family Law Dispute – Agreements that Suit Your Needs

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is an alternative way to determine a family law dispute outside of the courts. The Mediator Standards Board defines mediation as: “a process in which the participants, with the support of the mediator, identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives and make decisions about future actions and outcomes.”

It is a process of problem-solving that is guided by an impartial third party called a mediator.

WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?

In family law, the role of the mediator is to facilitate the process of dispute and conflict resolution while the content of the discussions rests with the parties. The mediator can assist the parties to clarify the most pertinent issues and consider ways to resolve these issues. A mediator will not, and cannot, give advice about your dispute or determine the dispute for you.

HOW IS MEDIATION DIFFERENT FROM COUNSELLING, CONCILIATION OR ARBITRATION

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Judicial Mediation: A New Option To Resolve Your Dispute

As of 1 January 2019, parties to a family law dispute and their marriage lawyer, in appropriate cases, may now have the option of Judicial Mediation in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Judicial Mediation is not intended to replace or substitute private mediation. Rather, the court expects that parties to a family law dispute exhaust all mediation alternatives, such as private mediation with a private mediator, prior to Judicial Mediation.

The Judicial Mediator

The Judicial Mediator may not be the Judge that would ordinarily determine the family law dispute. This Judge is referred to as the Docket Judge. Where both Judges consent, the Docket Judge may refer the proceeding for Judicial Mediation to another Judge.

How to Initiate Judicial Mediation

Judicial Mediation can be initiated in two ways. Firstly, you or your marriage lawyer can make an oral application in court. Alternatively, you or your marriage lawyer may apply for judicial mediation in writing to the Docket Judge. The written application must include a brief summary in bullet point format addressing why the matter is suitable for Judicial Mediation.

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Separation Lawyer Advice for Parenting after Divorce

Separating from your partner is often a difficult thing to go through and how both parties choose to handle that separation can determine how well your children adjust to the new situation. It is not uncommon for children to find a way to blame themselves for the separation despite every intention a parent might have to prevent this. Making a conscious effort to minimise the difficulties faced by children in the aftermath of separation can make all the difference.  Speaking to a separation lawyer at the onset of the split may be beneficial in providing you guidance for parenting after divorce, and allow you to set up a positive routine for your children from the start, which will hopefully extend throughout the remainder of the proceedings.

Some suggestions from the perspective of a Separation Lawyer to consider when coming up with parenting arrangements for your family:

1. Introducing Change Gradually

At separation, children find themselves in circumstances where they need to try to cope with many changes and quickly. This might be in the form of changes to where they live, go to school and spending separate time with each of their parents and extended family. In these circumstances, adhering to a similar routine as before might really help with the transition. For example, working together with the other parent so that children can attend the same school, extra-curricular activities and spend time with their friends as they did before can offer some stability and better equip them to deal with the other changes. Things like introducing new partners or relocating to another area may be responded to more positively if exposed in a more gradual fashion.

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Child Support Lawyers Advice – Changing Child Support Agreements

When making child support decisions, separating parents have the choice of applying to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for an administrative assessment, or they can make a private agreement between themselves with the assistance of their child support lawyers. But what happens if a party disagrees with the assessment; or if a party wishes to alter an assessment due to change of circumstances?

Appealing a administrative assessment made by the DHS

If you do not agree with an assessment made by the DHS, you may be able to make an objection. Objecting to a decision takes the form of a formal review.

Some of the reasons you may wish to object may include:

  • Use of wrong or out dated information
  • Not all the facts have been considered or important details neglected
  • The law has not been applied correctly

If you decide to object to a decision (other than decisions about care percentage) you must:

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Child Custody

The law abolished the concept of ‘child custody’ and does not make any distinction between the rights of fathers and mothers. Instead, the ‘best interests’ or welfare of the child is the paramount consideration that the Court takes into account in determining ‘child custody’, that is who the child with live with and spend time with.

While the law does not guarantee an equal-shared parenting arrangement in every matter, both parents have the responsibility for the care of their children. If the Court decides that an equal-shared parenting arrangement is not in the best interests of the child, the Court must consider ordering significant or substantial time to the non-resident parent.

The question of how much time a child should spend with both parents is determined by what is in the ‘best interests’ of the child. This is achieved by having regard to the two ‘Primary Considerations’, that is:

  • Whether there is any benefit to the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
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Child Custody Laws and Child Custody Rights – Where do I start?

Separation is often a stressful time for both parties. Alongside dealing with your own emotions during a particularly difficult time, parties with children have to make arrangements for the care of the child or children, as the case may be. Child custody, as it often referred to, concerns the resolution of parenting arrangements for children. This involves reaching agreement about with which parent the children will live with and the time that they will spend with the other parent during the school terms. It often extends to agreements about school holidays and special occasions throughout the year such as Christmas, Easter and Birthdays.

Considerations to keep in mind when negotiating an agreement about child custody:

  1. Separation is stressful on children too and each child may react in different ways to separation or divorce. The child’s age, maturity, personality and characteristics are some factors that will no doubt determine their reaction.
  2. It is important to remember that cooperation of the parties, particularly in the presence and hearing of the children, can be beneficial to the child’s reaction.
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How can a Marriage Lawyer Help?

When your marriage or relationship breaks down, there are many things that you need to consider. No doubt, going through this will bring upon change and while emotions may be high, it is very important that you speak to a Marriage Lawyer.

What can a Marriage Lawyer assist you in dealing with:
  • How to divide your finances
  • How the mortgage is to be paid
  • Who should pay the mortgage
  • Whether you should contact the bank for special consideration
  • Whether it would be ideal to sell the house
  • Where the children should live
  • How much time the children should spend with your partner
  • What should happen with the children on school holidays
  • Whether you should seek child support from your partner

At Matthews Folbigg Lawyers, a Marriage Lawyer will work closely with you to ensure you are well aware of your entitlements when being advised about family law issues. A Marriage Lawyer can help you understand the process involved with Divorce; Property settlement; Superannuation; Separation agreements; Parenting and custody disputes and Child support.

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Child Custody & Child Custody Laws

Child Custody Laws and Child Custody Rights are terms often used when parents seek advice in relation to parenting disputes. When parties make competing parenting applications, the Court is required to consider what is in the best interests of the child.

Children’s Rights

Child Custody Rights relate to the rights of the subject child, not the parents.

The rights of a child can be summarised into two primary considerations:

  1. The child’s right to have a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
  2. The child’s right to be protected from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence.

If the primary considerations conflict then the need to protect the child prevails.

The best interests’ principle is the overarching and paramount consideration in all parenting matters. Primary considerations, together with an extensive and broad list of additional considerations are matters that the Court will take into account when determining what is in the child’s best interest. An experienced family lawyer can advise you on which considerations are relevant to your circumstance.

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