Family Law Children's Issues

IMPORTANT NOTE:

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This information can be used in evidence in court proceedings, such as being attached to an affidavit filed in the Family Court.
It is important not to discuss or publish such information on public sites.

Overview of Family Law (Children's Issues):

People seek the help of the Court to resolve a parenting dispute when they are unable to come to an agreement in regards to the parenting of their children. In making decisions regarding parenting disputes, the Family Law Act requires a Court to regard the ‘best interests' of the child as the most important consideration. Parents must also use this principle when making parenting plans. For more information about the best interests of the child (see the Legal Aid WA website link below).

Steps towards resolving your dispute:

There are typically 6 steps involved in resolving parenting disputes:

1. Family Dispute Resolution

Before commencing a child related proceeding in the Family Court, you must attempt to negotiate a settlement outside of the court. This is called Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution (mediation). In certain circumstances (for example, where family violence is a concern) you can apply to the court for an exemption from attending Family Dispute Resolution. For more information regarding the pre-action procedures involved in parenting cases, you should download Brochure 2: Before you file- Pre-action procedures for parenting cases from the Family Court website. You can also download WLC's Mediation Guide.

2. Applying for a parenting order

If an agreement is reached through the dispute resolution process, you and the other party may enter into a Parenting Plan or apply to the Family Court for a Consent Order. If no agreement is reached, then either party may make an application to the Family Court for a Parenting Order. For more information you should visit the Family Court website and download the Consent Orders Kit  or the Parenting Orders Kit. You can also download WLC's "Parenting Plans and Consent Orders- A Workbook for Parents".

3. First court appearance

When either party files an application in the Family Court of WA, you will generally be listed for a hearing before a magistrate and will be assigned a Family Consultant who will attempt to assist you to resolve your dispute. For more information about your first Court appearance, you should visit the Family Court website and download Brochure 3: Case Assessment Conference- the Conference for Parenting Cases, which can be found under the Parenting Cases section of the webpage.

4. Hearings

You may be required to attend multiple hearings before the Court is ready to make a Final Order parenting order. After each hearing you attend the Court will provide you with information regarding what you will need to do before your next Court appearance.

The Court may make interim orders (if they are sought) which are legally binding, but will not become final orders unless both parties and the Court agree. Interim means temporary or short-term.

The Court may also order your Family Consultant to prepare a Family Report. For more information about this, you should download Brochure 4: Preparing for a Family Report from the Family Court website.

5. The Trial

The Trial occurs when the Court is ready to decide the Final Order. The Court will provide you with the opportunity to state your case and submit evidence. At the conclusion of the Trial the Court will make a Final Order for your case. For more information you should read "A guide to representing yourself in the Family Court of Western Australia- Children's cases".

6. The Court Order

A Court Order is a legally binding document; you can apply to the Court to have the Order enforced if someone breaches it. For more information regarding parenting orders you should visit the Family Court website and download Brochure 5: Parenting orders- Obligations, consequences and who can help.
If you are in need of a Contravention Kit (parenting), you can download it from here.

 

More Information:

  • Best Interest of the Child
  • Detailed information regarding each of the above processes (brochures 1-5).
  • The Family Court website also has a number of kits, forms and brochures.
  • Legal Aid website: section on family, relationships and children
  • Legal Aid infoline: 1 300 650 579.
  • The Family Court also holds free information sessions every Thursday regarding child-related proceedings. Attendance to these sessions is compulsory for all parties to applications for parenting orders (appointments are not necessary). The sessions starts at 10:00am, at Level3 Family Court of Western Australia, 150 Terrace Road, Perth. More info here.

Legal Assistance:

If you are seeking legal advice or representation, you visit the Law Society's website for the contact details of private practitioners that practice in the area of family law.

You may also be interested in visiting:

WLCWA Publications available on this page: