Agreements reached in Family Dispute Resolution Sessions

 

Agreements, parenting plans or consent orders?

Agreements reached in mediation are not legally binding. Agreements that are signed by all parties in mediation can be turned into a legal document, if all parties agree. Find out more.

 

Agreements reached in FDR sessions can

  • Remain as an informal agreement
  • Make this agreement the basis of a legally binding 'Parenting Plan'
  • Apply for a consent order

To Keep agreements as informal agreements

 

To keep your agreement informal, both parties need only comply with the agreements reached in mediation. The practitioner providing the mediation sessions, will at the end, simply provide each party with a typed copy of the agreements reached (and as worded on the whiteboard) during the sessions. Both parties, in good faith are expected to uphold these arrangements. 

 

To turn agreements into parenting plans

To turn an informal agreement into a Parenting Plan, as described in the Family Law Act, each parent signs and dates the summary of their agreement. The agreement must be signed freely and voluntarily without threat, duress or coercion. This form of Parenting Plan although not a legal document will be taken into account by the Court if/when making any subsequent parenting order.

 

To turn parenting plans into Consent Orders

 

Turning your parenting agreement into a legally binding Consent Order, you can apply to the Court directly or ask your lawyer to formalize the agreement into a legally binding consent order. Each parent has to have agreed to the contents of the order and once made, consent orders must be complied with.

Whether you want to keep arrangements as flexible as possible or legally binding, both parties need to agree. 

 

What to consider beforehand

Remember that is is always a good idea to have a review date included in the agreements, as it is reassuring knowing that there will be a time when both of you will return to mediation to change or add to the existing parenting plan. Look at a Parenting Plan as a work in progress. If a parenting plan is going to remain relevant, then it needs to be reviewed on as as need basis and updated to reflect yours and your children's changing situations. 

It is suggested that for children

  • under 4 years of age, the Parenting Plan should be reviewed every 6 months to one year
  • for children aged 4 to 12 years, every 12 months
  • for children between the ages of 12 - 18 years, a Parenting Plan should be reviewed every 4 years (for this age group, children's wishes can be taken into account)