In addition to family dispute resolution (FDR), there are a variety of alternate ways that arrangements for parenting matters can be made with family law lawyers and without the court’s involvement in the decision making.
Where parties are unable to or unwilling to negotiate with one another, negotiation can take place between their family law lawyers. This form of dispute resolution usually commences with an exchange of client instructions outlining each party’s view and an offer. A more formal version of lawyer negotiation that often occurs after a correspondence exchange is a ‘four-way conference’. This is where both parties and their respective lawyers meet and attempt to reach a resolution. If agreement is reached, it can therefore be formally documented with the assistance of the family law lawyers through an application for consent orders or a parenting plan.
A parenting plan is an agreement made after separation concerning how children will be cared for. Parenting plans allow parties to benefit from making their own decisions about what best suits everyone. Most of all, this approach is often more beneficial for children as it avoids some of the conflict associated with going to court. However, in some situations where parties have significant difficulty communicating and co-operating to make a workable plan, Court involvement may be the only option.