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If you are not happy with the time you are spending with your children you may need to make a change to the current arrangements.

Step 1: Speak with the mother or father

Hopefully, you and your ex-partner are on speaking terms and are able to talk to each other about matters concerning the children. If you are able to have a constructive conversation with your ex about changing the parenting arrangements you should have this discussion. It is the simplest, quickest and most cost-effective way to vary parenting arrangements. These discussions can be in person in writing (for example over email). Once you have come to an agreement you can instruct a solicitor to draft Consent Orders or a Parenting Plan to formalise the new arrangements. However, for some families, these sorts of private discussions are uncomfortable or not appropriate. If you do not feel comfortable privately discussing these matters with your ex-partner, or if you are unable to reach an agreement, you may need to proceed to step two and attend mediation with your ex-partner to help resolve the matter.

Step 2: Attend Mediation with the other parent

This step, unless very specific circumstances apply to your case, is essential for anyone whose matter may need to progress through the Family Court. Therefore, even if you do not believe mediation will achieve the resolution you seek, you are still required to participate. To organise mediation you can either contact Relationships Australia and ask for a Family Dispute Resolution Mediation or you can contact a private mediator. A private mediator will be more expensive, but you will likely progress to mediation quicker than with a service like Relationships Australia. Once you commence the mediation process your ex-partner will be invited to participate in mediation. You are welcome to contact your ex-partner prior to the formal invitation being extended to them, however, this is not necessary. At the end of the mediation process, you will be issued with a s60I certificate. If you decide to proceed to Court, a copy of this certificate will need to be given to the Court before they will consider your application.

However, if your matter is urgent, for example, you have not spent time with your child or you have serious concerns for your child’s safety and wellbeing, there may be grounds to skip the mediation process and proceed straight to court. In these circumstances, it is best to discuss your matter with a family law solicitor.

Step 3: Speak to a family law solicitor about your custody arrangements


  • You have exhausted step one and step two and you have still not reached an agreement with your ex-partner about parenting arrangements; or
  • If your matter is urgent and you feel you do not have the time to privately negotiate or attend mediation;

Then it is time to discuss your options with a family law solicitor. Your ex-partner may be susceptible to formal negotiations through a solicitor. Alternatively, your matter may need to proceed to Court to be able to achieve a resolution. One of our lawyers will be able to provide you with legal advice and options tailored to your specific circumstances.

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