Article by Bridget O’Kane
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) requires a person to make an attempt to resolve parenting matters before they can file an application with the Family Law Courts. This is compulsory and the Court will reject the Application of a party who has not made an attempt to resolve parenting matters unless there are factors that make family dispute resolution inappropriate such as cases involving the following:
Allegations or child abuse or risk of abuse;
Allegations of family violence or risk of family violence;
Where there is a genuinely intractable dispute; or When one person would be unduly prejudiced if another person became aware of the intention to start a case.
If your family law matter does not contain one of the above factors you need to contact your local family dispute resolution centre and arrange family dispute resolution which will involve an intake for yourself and the other parent and then mediation.
To show that you have made an attempt to resolve the parenting matters, family relationship centres will issue what is called a section 60I certificate which is a certificate issued by the family dispute practitioner.
If the other parent refuses to participate in family dispute resolution, this is still counted as making an attempt to resolve parenting matters and you can still be issued with a section 60I certificate. If mediation does take place and the parenting issues are not able to be resolved you will also be issued with a Section 60I certificate.
You do not need a section 60I certificate before you consult a lawyer for initial advice, however, you need a section 60I to issue proceedings in relation to the children’s matters at Court.
Once you are in possession of a section 60I certificate you should immediately provide it to your lawyer so should the children’s matters proceed to Court your lawyer can include it in your Court material.