There are many issues surrounding the separation of a couple whether married or in a de facto relationship. Aside from their emotions, couples have to think about the children and properties. Who will keep the children? Who will keep the house? How about the car? How am I going to collect child support? These are just some of the questions that will be plaguing couples once they separate.
The Family Law Act encourages couples who separate to enter into private agreements and settle the issues out of court. In fact, separating couples are required to undergo family dispute resolution so that they can thresh out their dispute without going to court. The exception to this requirement is if there is a history of family violence or child abuse. Reaching an agreement is particularly advantageous to the parties because they can come up with their own terms and they can negotiate for the best outcome.
About the care and welfare of the children, the separating parents can enter into a parenting plan. This is a written agreement which provides for the duties and responsibilities of each parent towards their children. If the parties are in agreement with the parenting arrangements of the children they need not go to court anymore. However, such a document is not legally enforceable, unlike a parenting order which is issued by the court.
Parties who would want to make their agreement about arrangements for the children may have such agreement approved by the court which will then issue a consent order. A consent order is legally enforceable. Parties with agreements about the division of property or spousal maintenance may also petition the court for the issuance of a consent order.
Parties who do not agree at all may go to court to petition for issuance of appropriate orders. This is time-consuming and traumatic, not to mention expensive. However, court intervention is simply unavoidable for some couples who are in conflict and cannot even be civil with each other. In these cases, the best option would be to have the court decide the dispute.