If you are a parent who is not spending time with your child(ren), this can be sad, disappointing and frustrating. Often it can be concerning and frightening, especially if the other parent has made a decision to move away without telling you, or without you agreeing, and taken your child(ren) with them.
Before you can go to court and ask the Court to make orders for you to spend time with your child(ren) or for your child(ren) to live with you or to move back, both parties are required to attempt mediation (also known as family dispute resolution). If that mediation does not resolve the matter you are then provided a certificate (known as a Section 60I Certificate) which you then have to give to court to show them that you have tried to mediate before you start court proceedings.
There are some circumstances where you are exempt from having to go to which includes, urgency, issues of safety or harm, and domestic or family violence.
In a recent court case, a Father went straight to court to get court orders to have his child returned to the town where he lived, without going to mediation first. The Mother had moved away from the town, with the child, without the Father’s knowledge and agreement.
The Father was asked by the Court why he hadn’t tried mediation and why he had not obtained a Section 60I Certificate.
The Court decided that the Father should have tried mediation before coming to Court and that generally the parents should always be given an opportunity to try and reach agreement about arrangements for their children before the Court gets involved.
Not attending mediation first cost this father time, money and further stress by having to deal with this matter again.
As clichéd as it sounds, rules are there for a reason. Seldom would you want to take the chance of not following the rules, especially when it has to do with your children.
Whilst you may feel like it is unfair, or it could take too long, or it is too complicated to follow the rules – if you don’t do this, you may risk the Court making a decision that means you have to go back and start again.
Joelene Nel is an Associate Director Family Lawyer at McLaughlins Lawyers. She is also a Collaborative Lawyer, Nationally Accredited Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.
If you would like advice about your family law matter, you can contact Joelene on (07) 5591 5099.
McLaughlins Lawyers, your experienced Gold Coast lawyers, we stand beside you and are here to help you when you need us.
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson
Date: 2 July 2020