Is there anything I have to do before I can go to the Family Court about arrangements for my children?
There are certain steps you must take before filing an application in the Family Court of WA about children’s issues. These are sometimes referred to as pre-filing procedures.
The purpose of these steps is to encourage the people involved in a dispute over arrangements for children to try to resolve their differences and come to an agreement without the need to go to Court. Going to Family Court can be a lengthy and expensive process. It can take up to or more than a year to reach the trial stage of a Family Court children’s matter. Many people also find the process very stressful and if not managed carefully, it can also have a negative impact on your children. Before starting legal proceedings, get legal advice to help you decide if going to Court is the best option for you, or if there may be other ways to resolve your dispute.
What are the steps I need to take to resolve issues about arrangements for children?
In most cases, you will not go straight to the Family Court to seek orders about arrangements for children (parenting orders). There are a number of things you can try before asking the Court for help. For more information, see Family dispute resolution and Other ways to resolve a family law dispute.
The Family Court requires that you attempt family dispute resolution (FDR) with a family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP) before it will allow you to start a case in the Court. There are some exceptions to this, for example if there has been family violence or child abuse or something is very urgent. For more information, see Family dispute resolution.
If you are unable to come to an agreement through FDR, you can ask the FDRP to issue you with a certificate. This certificate will allow you to start proceedings about children in the Family Court.
If you fall within one of the exemptions from compulsory FDR, you will need to file an Exemption form along with your application to the Family Court which specifies why you think you do not have to attend FDR. Depending on the reason for your exemption, you may also need to file other documents as well. These are specified on the Exemption form. You should get legal advice if you think your case fits into one of the exemption categories.
What happens if I do not attend FDR?
Unless you fit within an exemption, if you do not attend FDR the Court will not allow you to file papers to start a case about children.
Last reviewed: 01/11/2012