Transforming post-separation: the role of family dispute resolution

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By Muktesh Chibber

Separation of marital relationship is painful, and indeed psychologically distressing and traumatic if, the relationship has been violent. However, decision regarding children and finances have to be resolved. Legal procedures and going to court can be financially and emotionally draining.

Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) 2006

There has been a significant paradigm shift in the legal system with the changes in the family law Amendment Act (Shared Responsibility 2006). Child’s best interest is paramount while making parental orders—whereby the child to have safe, meaningful relationship with both parents and the importance of protecting the child from harm (psychological, physical abuse, neglect and family violence)

Shared Responsibility

The idea of shared responsibility is for the parents to maintains their post separated parental role and responsibilities in regard to the children. Children to have a meaningful and safe relationship with both parents. The concept of shared parenting responsibility of family law Act 2006 would require separated parents to agree to a parenting arrangement plan involving both parents to share decisions for their children regarding schooling, medical/ health emotional wellbeing, travel, holidays, important events and other relevant aspects of their children life.

Impact on Separation on Children

There is overwhelming research informing that children develop best when in nurturing and healthy environment. Children of separated or divorced parents require ongoing emotional support. How many separated parents have a civil and amicable separation? How many parents sit together with the children and explain the changes in the family circumstances without blaming each other? Research is well documented in regards to the process of explaining to children the changes in the family. It is the first step to reduce some of the worries of the children. Children adjustment to parents’ separation/ divorces depends on how parents cope, behave, their interactions and interventions with the children. Developmental stages of the children can be impacted if they continue to be exposed to high parental conflict after separation.

What is Family Dispute Resolution FDR:
  • It is a voluntary process whereby separated parents can settle matters of parenting arrangements and financial/ property settlement.
  • Separated parents are expected to attend FDR. The primary intent of the process is to encourage cooperative parenting after separation.
  • An important aspect of the family law legal system now shifts the conflict from adversarial process of separated or divorced parents encouraging them to resolve issue of parenting arrangement and financial and property settlement at the cost-effective family resolution dispute (FDR) process.
  • It is an opportunity for separated parents to settle parenting and financial/property matters amicably and without acrimony away from the Family Court.
  • The process is facilitated by the qualified, trained and registered family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP) /mediator. The FDRP is impartial and enables a constructive conversation between the parties.
  • Indeed, it is best if separated parents can negotiate a parenting arrangement among themselves, alternatively parents have the option of approaching family dispute resolution practitioner to resolve parenting, financial and property settlement. Legal and court proceedings would be the final option.
  • Whilst there are exceptional circumstances such as family violence and child abuse it is mandatory for separated parents to attempt to resolve parenting arrangement at family dispute resolution and obtain a certification 60I if they are wanting to apply for court proceedings.

About the author: Muktesh Chibber is a therapist specialising in couple and family relationship counseling, with expertise as a practitioner in family dispute resolution. He offers his services through the Indian Family Relationship Services, focusing on addressing and resolving issues within family dynamics.

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