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VIC Family Law Dispute Resolution and Parental Orders

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by YouOnlyGetWhatYouGive, 12 April 2015.

  1. YouOnlyGetWhatYouGive

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    Hi, I'm a stepfather seeking advice on the process of family dispute resolution and obtaining parental/consent orders.

    I have been unable to contact my daughter for the past 4 weeks. My ex-partner does not want to resolve this issue, and has made that clear. I have ceased contact with her, and am now pursuing legal options.

    As far as I understand, we need to try family law dispute resolution before I am able to apply for a consent orders. This process could take up to 2 months, and potentially remain unresolved.

    What do I need to do? And what can I do to secure access to see my daughter again, whilst shortening the lengthy time frame of this process? Understandably, I feel a sense of urgency.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    When you say daughter, I assume you refer to your step-daughter?

    Is the biological father involved?

    Under the Family Law Act 1975, children have a right to spend time and communicate with people relevant to their care, which includes step-parents, but it's a complicated process with step-parents because they don't have a presumption of parental responsibility.

    Under section 60i, you are correct that you need to pursue family dispute resolution and the best avenue is Legal Aid because they will ordinarily provide legal representation as well. However, Relationships Australia and Family Relationships Centres also offer FDR. Contact any of those to commence the process.

    If an agreement can't be reached, you can file an initiating application to the court in pursuit of parenting orders.
     
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  3. YouOnlyGetWhatYouGive

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    Yes you are correct, I am referring to my stepdaughter. The biological father has not been involved in her life since she was five, she is now 11 years old.

    I am most likely ineligible for legal aid based on my income. I have a phone appointment with a Family Relationships Centre this Wednesday to discuss the situation. Should I get a lawyer now? As I am not sure how important legal advice through the mediation process is.

    At what point should I be applying for an initiating application? Can I do this now, or do I have to wait till the dispute resolution process is final?

    Thank you
     
  4. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    It's up to you whether you get legal representation for FDR. Sometimes, legal representation can exacerbate conflict and make matters worse, but in other circumstances, it can balance things to ensure you're not being manipulated or pressured by the other party to sign an agreement you don't actually agree with.

    You're unable to file an initiating application before the family dispute resolution certificate is given to you, as it is required as part of the application. FDR can be a slow process, but it's really important to remain patient and follow the right avenues. A lot of parents make rash decisions out of anger or frustration, which tends to come back to haunt them in court.

    For now, consider what kind of care arrangements you would like to have in place for the child and have a range of options you would be open to considering. That will help you prepare for FDR and have some objectives for discussion.
     
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  5. YouOnlyGetWhatYouGive

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    Thank you for you time and a great legal advice forum!
     

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