How to prepare for mediation after a family breakdown4-December-2012 Family Law By Simone Green
Christmas is a time of year when couples often reconsider their future together, deciding the best way forward for all concerned is to split up.
But where children are involved, the process of dividing parenting care and costs can be complex.
Sydney lawyer Simone Green, a Family Law expert with Streeterlaw, says it’s important parents understand and prepare for what lies ahead when going through the divorce process.
“Participation in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), commonly known as mediation, is compulsory for parents prior to filing an application in the Family Courts for parenting orders,” Ms Green explained.
“As this process usually occurs without lawyers, we are often asked by our clients how they can prepare for FDR.”
Ms Green has devised the following checklist to help parents prepare for FDR:
- Are there any existing orders for parenting or previous parenting plans? If so take a copy with you.
- Bring details of the child’s school or pre-school, including fees, curriculum, holiday dates, pupil-free days, special activity days and the like; and any after-school care services.
- If travelling with the child intra or interstate or overseas, bring a copy of the full itinerary including dates of travel, places visited, copies of air tickets (if applicable). If the child requires a passport, the other parent’s consent is necessary, so bring a copy of the passport application with you.
- If the distance between the parents’ residences is significant and it will be necessary for the child to travel between them, come prepared with details of the costs of transport (bus, train or plane) and, if applicable, any details of the airline’s polices on unaccompanied minors (if travelling alone).
- Who is to pay for the cost of the child’s travel between the parents? Come ready with a proposal.
- Have a proposal considered for “changeover” of the child between parents. If this involves a third party, make sure you have discussed this with them and have their consent and availability. In the event that a contact centre is required, make prior enquiries as to their cost and availability.
- How will you communicate with the other parent? Think about methods such as SMS messaging or email, if telephone contact is not appropriate.
- Speak to your employer (if necessary) prior to making any proposals that involve caring for the children outside of your annual leave entitlements and determine any flexibility in respect to working hours.
- Have a detailed list of the child’s extra-curricular activities, either current or proposed, including times, location and costs.
This list is by no means exhaustive but is a good starting point for your preparation.
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