I am worried that my children may not be safe with my ex partner

If you have concerns for the safety of any child you should make a notification to the Child Abuse Report Line 131478.

However, we would also suggest getting legal advice.  ac.care also offers family dispute resolution services to help you and your partner work out safe care arrangements outside of court.  Another option is ac.care’s children’s contact service in which your ex-partner could have supervised contact with your children in a safe environment.

We argue in front of the children when we do handovers, can you help?

Yes the children’s contact service provides a safe place for separated parents to do change overs in which parents do not need to have contact with one another.  Our parenting after separation program can also help you manage conflict in general and at the point of change overs.

It's been a long time since my ex partner has seen the children

Our community referral worker at the Family Relationship Centre can discuss several options with you.  You could attempt mediation and develop a parenting plan so your ex-partner can start to have contact with the children.  The children’s contact service is also a good way for parents to start to re-build their relationship in a safe, supervised environment.

‘My husband  / wife and I have separated….’?

Contact the Family Relationship Centre.  We can offer you emotional support and counselling as well as help you work out care arrangements for children.

I am struggling with managing my child’s behavior

We understand that being a parent is tough and we provide to support to parents to better manage their children’s behaviours. Ac.care’s family support program and parenting programs are a good place to start.


How old can children be before they can make their own decisions about their living arrangements (i.e. which parent they live with and how often they see each parent)?

In Australia there is no legally defined age for this, but in deciding how much weight to put on a child’s views the Family Court, and you as parents, need to consider the following: the child’s maturity, their level of understanding, the context that their view is expressed in, and whether or not the child has been influenced by anyone to say what they are saying.

Remember that your children will often tell you what they think you want to hear and will tell each parent that they want to live with them (they don’t want to hurt either of you); and that children often don’t want to have the responsibility put on them of making decisions, they just want to have their voice heard.


How long will it take to do mediation (Family Dispute Resolution)?

From the point of your referral being allocated to a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (also known as a mediator) the process will take approximately 2-3 months.  This is compared to the lengthy Family Court process which can take up to 2 years.  **can a link be inserted to the FDR process flowchart?


Can my child be involved in mediation to have their say?

We don’t have children directly involved in our mediation service.  We do what is called Child Focused mediation, where parties are encouraged and supported to focus on the best interests and needs of the children.  Child Inclusive mediation is where children can directly participate in the process via a specialist child inclusive practitioner.  If you end up in Family Court, it is possible that an Independent Children’s lawyer will be appointed to represent your child’s voice in Court


I’m a grandparent who is not seeing my grandchildren.  What can I do?

Family Dispute Resolution is a good place to start.  The Family Law Act (1975) recognises the important role that grandparents play in children’s lives, and says that when the Court is making decisions about what is best for children, one of the things that they consider is the role of grandparents.  Our Family Dispute Resolution service, as well as our Parenting After Separation service will seek to help and support you with this.  It is also really important that you get some legal advice for your specific situation/circumstances.


My child’s other parent is not letting me see my child(ren).  What can I do?

The first thing to do is get some legal advice.  You can get free legal advice from the Legal Service’s Commission Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424.  There are 2 services that we offer that could help in this matter – Family Dispute Resolution and the Children’s Contact Service.  Please contact the Family Relationship Centre to find out more about these.  Support from our Parenting After Separation service and Counselling service is also available.


I need help to change my violent and abusive behaviour.

You can seek help and support for this with our Specialised Family Violence service.  You’ll work with a counsellor to address this and support your behaviour change.