The pathway to resolution may involve;
1. Agreement between yourselves and an informal agreement, or a formalised agreement in the form of a parenting plan, consent orders, or financial or child support agreements;
2. Participation in dispute resolution processes such as mediation and either an informal agreement, or formalised agreement in the form of a parenting plan, consent orders, or financial or child support agreements;
3. In the absence of an agreement, you may need to apply to the Court to assist in the resolution of your dispute. This can be done by way of an Initiating Application, accompanied by an affidavit, notice of risk, and financial statement if appropriate.
Compliance with the pre-action procedures is essential.
4. Negotiations can continue even after an application has been made to the Court. You can settle your dispute privately at any time before final determination by the Court.
5. You will then be assigned a date for your first court event, usually within six to eight weeks of making the initial application to the Court. Ahead of this, the party that did not apply to the Court must file their response to the Initiating Application. At the first court event, the court will make directions as to how the matter should proceed, and may include:
- Directions to participate in dispute resolution processes such as a conciliation conference or private mediation- (parties will usually be directed to participate in some form of dispute resolution within six months of the initial application to the Court, unless it is not safe to do so);
- Directions to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer or prepare a family report, or participate in a Child Inclusive or Child Dispute Conference;
- Directions to comply with pre-action procedures, duties of disclosure or to obtain valuations of assets in dispute;
- Directions to undertake drug and alcohol testing, medical or psychiatric reports, etc.
6. If the matter remains unresolved, it will be sent to a Compliance and Readiness Hearing, to ensure that all parties are complying with Orders and duties, and to assess whether the matter is ready for Trial. Directions may be made to ensure readiness for Trial, and compliance with these may be assessed at a Trial Management Hearing if required.
7. The matter will then proceed to Final Hearing or Trial. Where possible, the Court aims to hear all matters on a final basis within twelve months of the initial application. At the Trial, you will be examined about matters in dispute, and your legal representatives will assist you in putting evidence before the Court. After hearing all of the evidence from both parties, your matter will be subject to final determination by the Court.