Two Birds, One Stone: Parenting and Property

Our Family Law Solicitor, Caitlin Jones, recently acted for a client, a father of two (2) children aged 11 and 9. Our client initially engaged and instructed our office as the mother had withheld the children from spending time with our client for a period of 2 months following the breakdown of their relationship.

Owing to the tension between the parties following the breakdown of their relationship, we adopted an approach to bifurcate the parenting and property matters.

We were initially able to re-commence our client’s time with the children by way of entering into an interim parenting plan for our client to spend time with the children each alternate weekend.  Our client’s primary position throughout the parenting matter was to reach an agreement for the children to live between the parties in a shared care arrangement.

As we were unable to resolve the parenting matter on a final basis at the first mediation, our office proposed, and it was agreed for the parties to participate in a child inclusive mediation. This involved engaging a child consultant who met with the children prior to the second mediation and was an active participate during the second parenting mediation and was able to provide both parties with insight into the views of the children and their wishes regarding parenting arrangements. The children had indicated to the child consultant that they wished to live between the parties equally.

During the second mediation, the mother maintained her position that she was not prepared to agree to a shared care arrangement. After extensive negotiations the parties entered into a further interim agreement for the children to spend time with our client for five (5) nights a fortnight and a half of school holidays.

After substantive discussions as to whether or not to commence proceedings, we made a final proposal to the mother’s solicitor and were able to reach agreement that upon the commencement of new school term that the children would reside between the parties in a shared care arrangement. At this time, Consent Orders in respect to parenting were prepared jointly between the solicitors and filed with the Court.

Once the parenting matter was resolved, we then turned our focus to reaching a property settlement.

Both the parties adopted a commercial approach to the property matter and were highly motivated to keep the matter out of the Court system. The parties engaged in a third mediation for property only, however, owing to a significant amount of disclosure lacking from the mother, we were unable to resolve the property matter on this occasion.

After extensive negotiations, we were able to reach an agreement, by way of Consent Orders, that was very favourable for both parties (and the children) as it allowed the mother to retain a property and saw our client receive a settlement sum which enabled him to purchase a home.

Our client now has financial independence, housing stability and substantive and significant time with his children.

If you require any assistance with your property, and or parenting matter, please do not hesitate to contact Caitlin in our Newcastle office on (02) 4058 5844.

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