Separate smarter: We cannot agree

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When it is safe, court proceedings should be a last resort. The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the Court) expects people to make genuine attempts to engage in dispute resolution, to avoid the time, cost and stress associated with litigation.

Of course, for some people, court proceedings may be the only way forward but for many, dispute resolution such as mediation and family dispute resolution (FDR) and choosing not to enter the Court system can be the smartest way.

If it is safe and you think, with some help, you could reach an agreement see, Dispute resolution for information about the different options available to you.

If you cannot reach an agreement, or it is not safe for you to engage in dispute resolution with your former partner, you may consider applying to the Court for orders. Sometimes this may be the only way to deal with a dispute.

Making an application to the Court

There are procedures you must follow before you commence action in the Court. For more information, see the publications:

There are also different requirements when applying for parenting and financial orders, although you can cover both issues in the same application to the Court. For more information about making an application to the Court, including procedural requirements, which forms you need to file, and what fees you need to pay, see Children: We cannot agree and/or Finances and property: We cannot agree.

There are also step-by-step How do I...? guides on this website that take you through how to prepare and file your court documents.

Your safety

The Court places children, litigants and their safety at the heart of the process. For some families, it may be unsafe to resolve their disputes without the help of the Court process and court orders. Remember, there are people who can help you.

When you make an application to the Court for a parenting order, you must file a Notice of child abuse, family violence and risk. In this form, you notify the Court of any safety risks or allegations of child abuse, family violence or risk. You must file an affidavit that details any of risks or allegations you identify in the form. You must also tell the Court if you have a Family violence order.

This information allows the Court to manage your case in the safest and most appropriate way.

For more information, see How the Court considers safety and risk.

Family violence support

If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you can get help and support. See Family violence - Get help and support or visit the Family Violence Law Help website, which provides information about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.

Family Violence Law Help

If you are in immediate danger call 000