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Just separated and trying to find my way

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looking for help and advise on items and steps after seperation.


My wife and I have just separated.

Because she does shiftwork it is impossible for her to look after the girls most nights. Friday we went to the Family Assistance Office to start the change-over of child care benefit. The forms said I needed a parenting plan or legal document.

Given that neither my partner or myself earn that much we really need to avoid going through solicitors if possible.

SO the first hurdle is getting a parenting plan done.

1. Can just my partner and I put this together?

2. Is there a standard format or template that should be used?

3. If needed to be officiated my someone, can someone like our church minister do that?

4. What happens when you cannot calulate the hours of shared custody on weekends because of her uncertain hours during those days?


Parenting Arrangements - Post separation

There are three (3) paths parents may use post separation to put arrangements in place for the care of their children:

1. The first is simple- they simply do what works for them, no paperwork or arguments. It has the massive advantage of flexibility and little aggravation.

2. The second is prepare a "Parenting Plan" - while it in writing - it is not enforceable in court (If the issue was taken to court the court must consider the terms of any parenting plan). It make dealing with Government Agencies easier and and it should allow parents to change arrangements when appropriate. An old "Parenting Plan" is set aside by simply preparing a new one.

3. The third is the formal route. "Court Orders"

These can be by consent. All the documentation is prepared and filed in a court. Both Local Courts and the Federal Magistrates Court will make "Consent Orders" without charge and a fairly expeditious manner. Parents who have agreed to "Consent Orders" are exempt from going through the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR - mediation) process.

If consent is not possible then the parent who wishes to file an application in court must attempt to initiate "FDR" and will be issued a certificate saying they did. The Family Law Act requires parents to attempt to resolve the matter in "FDR" before filing an application in court (There are very narrow grounds to bypass the need for FDR). If the parents have been unable to resolve all or some of the Parenting Issues - it will be necessary to file an application in the Federal Magistrates Court for Final and if necessary Interim Orders. A local Court must refer a contested case on Parenting Issues to the Federal Magistrates Court.

While there are 2 federal courts, the Federal Magistrates Court and the Family Court of Australia; which hear Family Law matters, the Registry where the documents are filed will probably decide which court should hear the matter.

It is interesting to note that most disputed cases settle by consent before the Judge or Magistrate is left to make the final decision.

It is also very important to understand the while Court make Final Orders in relation to children, there is nothing to stop parents agreeing to do something different to what the orders specify.

So - if you chose the simple path - both just getting on with your lives and getting on with each other where the children are concerned, you don't need anyone to officiate, though there is nothing to stop you seeking any help you chose.

If you would like some help in pouting a parenting plan together there are plenty of organisation which can help. The most appropriate of these are the Family Relationship Centres (FRCs), that is what they were set up for. If the Court holds Circuit Hearing in your area, it is quite likely an FRC will have some services available near you.

If you want more help, we at SRL-R would be will to assist as well, you simply need to join.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
Hi there and thankyou for your reply.

Can I first ask what SRL-R stands for?

The reason I asked about putting together a parenting plan is that my understanding from working through the child care benefit forms and information sheet provided by Family Assistance is that they require this to show proportions of care or custody.

WIth my ex-partne'-s shift work, she often has to leave at 4am and does not get home till about 10:30am. This makes it impossible for her to have much overnight care.

I want to be fair and not pull a shifty on her so, I am happy to count up hours instead.

Given that Mon + Thurs that would be 3pm - approx 9pm, Tue + Wed 3pm - approx 6pm. Friday 3pm to ave approx 8pm. Can we just list that in a tabled sheet for Family Assistance and that is sufficient for them?

Once she gets herself settled and finds herself a place (she is house sitting at this stage) she might have them overnight one day per week but I will still have the majority care.

Moderator Added - What SRL-R stands for:
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