When parties separate, it is highly desirable to have parenting arrangements with respect to children sorted at an early stage to minimise stress for all family members, children and parents. If parties are amicable and can agree about arrangements for children, there is no need to have any written document reflecting that. However, if this is not the case, then it is best to have parenting arrangements documented either by way of a Parenting Agreement or Consent Orders under the Family Law Act so that there is certainty. If parties enter into a Parenting Agreement, and one party does not adhere to the terms of the agreement, the other party is not able to legally enforce the terms of the agreement, so that is a disadvantage. If Consent Orders are entered into, then these Orders must be followed and if a party does not, there are consequences for being in breach of a Court Order.
Prior to any party having an entitlement to file an application for Court Orders in relation to children, parties must attend mediation and attempt to resolve the issues concerning the children by this means. If they are not successful, then a Section 60I certificate will be issued and they may thereafter approach the Court for Orders (there are some circumstances where parties are not required to attend mediation, such as when there are circumstances of domestic violence involved in the matter).