Parents who cannot agree about the living arrangements of their children must first undergo mediation before applying to the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court or Local Court for parenting orders. If the invitation to mediation is accepted by the other party, they must make a genuine effort to reach an agreement.
If the invitation is not accepted or there was a failure to reach an agreement, only then can an application for parenting order be filed with the Court.
An applicant can file for Interim Orders if his case is urgent. If the case is not urgent, a Directions Hearing or Case Assessment Conference will be scheduled about 6 weeks from the date of the filing of the application. Generally, before the case assessment conference and/or directions hearing, the parties will be required to participate in a mediation proceeding with a Family Court Family Consultant or Registrar in an attempt for the parties to reach an agreement. Before the case assessment conference, an Information Session is required to be attended by the parties which will be conducted by a court officer. The court officer will explain to the parties the court proceedings, the cost and time involved in the court action.
If an agreement is reached, the Court will use this as basis for the issuance of Consent Orders. If there is no agreement, the case will proceed to trial. On the first day of the hearing, the parties can address the Court directly and explain their concerns, proposals and issues. Based on these assertions by the parties the Judge will be able to determine the issues involved and how evidence will be given.