Reaching An Agreement Is Good NEws
You and your ex-partner may have an in-principle agreement, or are close to reaching an agreement, in relation to the parenting arrangements for your children.
Making a parenting agreement with your ex-partner is one of the most positive and constructive things you can do. Parental conflict is extremely damaging to children and should be avoided at all costs. Having an agreement in place provides certainty and stability for you, your ex-partner, and most importantly, your children.
An agreement can also help guard against headaches further down the track. For example, separated parents often start off amicably, only for things to turn sour when one of them becomes jealous or suspicious because the other parent starts dating someone new.
An agreement can be reached with your partner in a variety of different ways. You may have gone through a formal mediation. You may have had a chat in a café. You may have written various emails to each other. Whatever you have done, you have now agreed in principle about what your parenting arrangements will be for your kids.
The next step is to put your agreement in writing and make it legally binding.
But, There Is A Specific Way To Make It Legally Binding
An agreement is not legally binding until certain legal processes, such as the completion of consent orders, are followed. Until that is done, each person is free to change their mind even if they have agreed in principle.
Making your agreement legally binding will give you some legal protection if your partner changes their mind further down the track. Circumstances change. For example, people who are normally reasonable and amicable can become jealous and irrational once their ex-partner starts dating someone.
Making your agreement legally binding now, while you and your ex-partner still agree, can save you thousands of dollars in legal fees later on if your ex-partner decides to change their mind.
A legally binding agreement also gives you the security of knowing that if your ex-partner breaches it, you have recourse to enforce it in the Family Court of Western Australia.
Making your agreement legally binding allows you to move on with your life. It allows you to finalise all legal and other arrangements with your ex-partner, so you can start focusing on the future instead of getting bogged down in costly and emotional battles about the past.
Most importantly, a legally binding agreement will provide certainty and stability for your children, and ensure that they are not exposed to a prolonged and damaging conflict between their parents.
Different Options For Making An Agreement About Your Children
When it comes to writing up an agreement about parenting issues, there are a number of different options available to you.
One option is for you and your ex-partner to enter into a Parenting Plan. It is important to note that a Parenting Plan is not legally binding. There is no strict legal requirement for an agreement about children to be legally binding, but it is usually preferable in most situations to have a legally binding agreement. This is because circumstances change and people change. Whilst things might be amicable with your ex-partner now, people often find themselves in a situation where it ceases to be amicable, and then they are left in a state of distress and uncertainty because they do not have a legally binding and enforceable agreement.
There is only way to make an agreement about children and parenting arrangements legally binding: by filing an Application for Consent Orders in the Family Court of Western Australia.
Consent orders can cover various issues in relation to your children, such as:
What To Do NEXT
Call Us For Free Initial Discussion
Meet With A
We Prepare the Document
Documents Are Finalised, Signed & Lodged
We lodge the Form 11 with the Family Court to get the orders legally issued.
11 BenefitS of Getting Legal Advice Early
You may not have been through a separation before. You may not know where you stand, where to start or what to do. It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the situation. Speaking to an experienced family lawyer is often the first step to get clarity about your rights, your options, and what to do next.
Seeing a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re about to start World War III. Getting legal advice early can help you make informed decisions about your separation.
Getting legal advice can give you clarity about the law and the legal process, and improve your chances of avoiding a stressful and expensive Family Court battle.
If you and your partner are amicable, then an experienced family lawyer can advise you about your options for making an agreement.
If you and your partner are not so amicable, then an experienced family lawyer can advise you about the various options available to you for resolving the matter.
A family lawyer can also help prepare you if you do need to go to court as a last resort.
Sitting down with a lawyer for an initial meeting will give you important information such as:
- What a fair division of the assets of the relationship looks like, how much you should get, and how much your partner should get.
- How parenting arrangements for children under 18 are determined, and how much time you and your partner should be spending with your children.
- The process for making an agreement with your partner legally binding.
Sitting down with a lawyer can also help answer questions you might have, such as:
- How do I divide superannuation interests?
- Who gets to live in the family home after separation?
- If my child gets sick, who makes the decisions regarding medical care?
- What do I have to do if I want to take my child overseas?
- What are my options when it comes to child support?
- How much time should my kids be spending with me and my partner?
- Do we need to sell the family home or can one of us buy the other out?
- Who pays the mortgage?
- If my partner and I cannot reach an agreement, how do we resolve our family law issues?
If you reach an agreement with your ex-partner, a family lawyer can help you prepare that agreement and also make sure that it covers all the issues that you and your ex-partner may not have considered, such as:
- How the money in joint accounts is to be divided?
- If one person is buying the other person out, what happens if they cannot obtain finance approval?
- If there are personal loans and credit card debts, who is responsible for the repayments?
- How to effectively deal with business interests, such as organising a transfer of shares, organising the resignation by one person as director and employee, whether a family trust needs to be restructured, and whether a fair market value has been attributed to the business?
Once everything has been covered properly in the agreement, we can help you complete the legal paperwork and draft the necessary terms to make sure the agreement is both accurate and protects your interests.
We can then communicate with your former partner to have the documents finalised, or advise you on how to communicate effectively with your former partner yourself.
You Are In Experienced Hands
Jeff Hewitt is head of MKI Legal’s family law team. Jeff is a senior family lawyer with over 15 years’ experience.
Jeff practises exclusively in family law, and has extensive experience in property and financial matters, parenting and childern’s matters, de factor property matters, family law matters affecting same sex couples, superannuation splitting, spousal maintenance, divorce, child support, child support agreements, binding financial agreements, and consent orders.
Jeff is an experienced nefotiator who takes great pride in resolving disputes and keeping people out of court as much as possible.
In his spare time, Jeff enjoys spending time with his family, playing guitar, reading, meditation, and supporting his beloved footy team.
Jeff is a member of the Family Law Practitioners’ Association of Western Australia.
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