Children and Separation
Ending your marriage and separating can be a very stressful time of your life. It can also be stressful for your children. When you separate, you are required to make parenting arrangements with your former partner.
The first step for making a parenting arrangement should be, if possible, to discuss it with your former spouse. In certain circumstances, it may not be possible to contact your former spouse due to an Intervention Order (“IVO”). However, most IVOs have an exception which allows parents to communicate via text, email or letter to make arrangements for the children. If in doubt you may need to seek legal advice before communicating. Where is no IVO, but there is some antagonism between you it may be prudent to consider communicating in writing so that there is a record of what is said, however in most cases the greatest progress is made by speaking directly where that is possible.
If you are not able to agree to an arrangement amongst yourselves, are restricted by an IVO or simply cannot communicate with your former spouse then you may attend a Family Dispute Resolution mediation. These are conducted by many providers, notably of whom are Relationships Australia and LifeWorks. These providers are government funded organisations hence cost effective. However, if you require an urgent mediation, then you may have to retain the services of privately funded mediators.
In some circumstances, mediation may not be appropriate, for example where there is a power imbalance in the relationship. Usually, mediators can make a decision whether or not your matter is appropriate for mediation. If mediation is not appropriate in your situation then you may seek legal assistance from a lawyer who practices in family law. Your lawyer may be able to give you options as to how best to proceed with the negotiations, the pitfalls that may exist whicle you are negotiating or how to press forward if no progress is being made.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Taking the next step and contacting a family lawyer can be scary. Our lawyers will make you feel comfortable so you can talk about your situation. But first, ask yourself, Do I really need a lawyer?