A recent case has highlighted the necessity to go to conciliation, as required by Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), prior to commencing any court proceedings that will affect children.
It is a precondition that you attempt conciliation and/or mediation prior to going to court. If you don’t do that, and instead jump straight into court proceedings, then your claim may be struck out, which is what happened in the recent case of Ellwood v Ravenhill. The appeal judge, Justice Kent, said that:
The provisions of Section 60I emphasise the requirements of parties to a dispute about parenting orders to make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute with the assistance of family dispute resolution, before application is made to the court.
Whilst there are exceptions, they are all listed in Section 60I, and if you don’t qualify for any of those exceptions then your claim will be struck out.
In this particular case, the two children were aged 17 and 15, and the father sought to have the court make the existing, informal parenting arrangements into a final parenting order. The mother resisted, purely applying for the dismissal of the application as the parties had not conducted the necessary “genuine effort” to resolve the dispute by family dispute resolution.
His Honour struck out the father’s application.
So, what does this mean for you if you are in a dispute with your spouse about your kids?
It means that it is essential to make a genuine effort to hold a conciliation conference prior to commencing any court proceedings. If you don’t do it, your case will be thrown out of court.
You can read more about the case of Ellwood v Ravenhill through the Law Society Journal website.
If you need any advice regarding children, property or any other family law matters, then give Greg Martin or Jacqueline Wainwright a call on 02 9687 9322, and we would be happy to help you.