Families come in all shapes and sizes. Mothers and Fathers in a loving relationship. Single parents raising their children alone. Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles being the primary carer. Step parents who have spent significant time with their partner’s children raising them as their own. Parental rights also come in those same shapes and sizes. If you are a parent or a carer, you have parental rights. The rights to spend time, and or communicate with your children. Parents and carers who are incarcerated also have parental rights. Quite often depending on the decision by the court these rights may only include prison visits, phone contact, or letter communication.
Mediation s60i Certificate
When you separate you and your ex-partner should come to an agreement regarding your child/ren. You will need to make a joint decision on who the child/ren will live with and who they will spend time with, or whether your child/ren will live with each parent equally.
Should you not be able to reach an agreement without assistance there are avenues that you can take for a parenting agreement to occur. Mediation and applications to the Federal Circuit Court (FCC) are ways which are available to you.
Family Dispute Resolution mediation (FDR) is compulsory, unless there are issues of Family Violence that fall within the exceptions of the Family Law Act. If you are unable to agree at mediation, the FDR Practitioner will provide a section 60i certificate which is required should you wish to take the matter to court. If the matter is resolved at mediation you can agree to a parenting plan, or you can apply to the FCC to have the parenting agreement made into consent orders which are orders of the court.
S60i and Federal Circuit Court Court
The Federal Circuit Court (FCC) has information that can assist you with your Family Matters. Once you have your section 60i certificate or if you fall within the family law exceptions you can commence an application in the court. To do so you can either seek legal advice and have a solicitor prepare the application with you or you can make your own application. The appropriate forms are downloadable from the FCC website. These forms are: Initiating application. affidavit and notice of risk. The FCC website does provide information to help you complete these documents. Once you are ready to file you can attend on the registry at the Family Courts in Brisbane, Maroochydore, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Toowoomba. Please contact your local courts for information on other registries. There will be a filing fee, some people may qualify for fee reduction.
Once the documents have been filed the courts will assess your application and if it is in an approved form they will provide the parties with a court date for the first appearance. On the day of your court appearance you can seek the assistance of the duty lawyers available at court. At the smaller family courts there are limited duty lawyers available. Should one party have already accessed the assistance of the duty lawyer then the other party may not be able to get assistance. In the Brisbane FCC there are two duty lawyer services available: Legal Aid and Caxton Legal. The duty Lawyers may be able to assist with advice. It is only in limited circumstances that they will be able to assist people in court. The Judges of the FFC court must be respected at all times. You should address them as “Your Honour” . They have the best interest of children as paramount in your matter. The court process can be slow and confusing, the best assistance for you is to seek advice and self-educate on how your matter should be best presented.
When you have a court date you must attend on the day. You can make a request of the court to appear by phone in limited circumstances. Should you not appear the court may proceed and make an order without you. A court date is called a “directions hearing”, while you are given a time generally 9:30am you must be prepared to be at court for the full day. There will be many people like yourself that appear at court that day. The court expects parents to try to negotiate and narrow down the issues. Your legal representative or the duty lawyer service may be able to work with you an the other party. The Judge will hear your matter and issue directions which are tasks that may need to be undertaken before the next court date. This could include attendance on a Family Reporter who will prepare a social science report of the family and its dynamics making recommendation to the court in the best interest of the child. There are no childcare facilities at Court. Children should not attend unless ordered by the court to attend a Family Report interview
Can I take the Children
It is not in the best interest of your child/ren if you take matters into your own hands by removing children from their primary carer or withholding the child/ren from the other parent. Please seek legal advice immediately if you are considering this or if the other parent has prevented you from spending time with your children.
If your child/ren has been taken by a parent/carer without agreement between you then you can make an urgent application in the court. This does not require a section 60I certificate. Seek immediate legal advice. Delay may mean that the court may make a decision for the child to continue living with the parent who took the child until the court orders otherwise. The court will decide an urgent recovery matter in the child’s best interest.