New applications for parenting orders, varying existing orders or seeking guardianship decisions (such as where the children will go to school) where the terms of the parenting arrangement are in dispute and the Court is being asked to resolve the matter:
The Family Court reforms are designed to encourage parties to reach agreement without recourse to lawyers or the Court until they have attempted mediation and completed a Parenting Through Separation (PTS) course.
If you are eligible for funding (on a similar basis to the Legal Aid eligibility test) then a Family Law Advice Service lawyer (similar to a Legal Aid lawyer) who is accredited to provide pre-application advice (on how the process works, what should be filed and how to draft the documents) can help you prepare your application and affidavit but cannot appear in Court with you.
Similarly, if you are privately engaging a lawyer they can help you prepare the documents and advise you but cannot appear with you in Court in the early stages. Law & Associates is not accredited to offer the Family Legal Aid (FLAS) service but can assist if you are fee paying.
Only one application can be brought in each twelve month period. The application fee is $220.
The Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) mediation is at a cost of $890 and provided by court-approved mediators if you are eligible for assistance or you can select your own at your own cost. The PTS courses are free and you can be referred by the Court. 0800-2AGREE is the Ministry of Justice’s website for inquiries about FDR and PTS courses near you.
Where the parties have agreed the terms of their parenting arrangements between themselves then the agreement can be submitted to the Court and orders made according to that Agreement without the requirement to attend FDR or a PTS course. It is expected that such agreements, if they are - on their face - in the interests of the children, will be accepted by the Court and it will make orders accordingly. There will be an application fee of $220 to file an application for orders by consent. Legal input will be at your own cost in this case unless you qualify for FLAS.
Please call us if you would like to discuss the new Family Court Reforms and how these changes will affect you.