s.60I Certificates and pre-action procedures in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia

s.60i Certificates and pre-action procedures in the federal circuit and family court of australia

If you’ve done a bit of research about family law, you’ve probably read about section 60I Certificates but might not know what they actually are, and why they are important.

If you want to apply for parenting or financial orders, there are certain pre-action requirements in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia that must be met before proceeding with your application. Obtaining a s.60I Certificate is one of them if you want to apply for parenting orders.

Genuine steps to resolve your dispute

First, you are required to comply with the pre-action procedures for financial or parenting proceedings set out in the Family Law Rules and section 60I of the Family Law Act. Most importantly, this includes attending dispute resolution and filing what is called a “Genuine Steps Certificate” and, for parenting matters, a s.60I Certificate. These certificates must be filed with your court application and outline the steps you have taken to resolve the dispute (or why an exemption applies – the categories are narrow).

To file a Genuine Steps Certificate, and to receive a s.60I Certificate, you must take genuine steps to attempt to resolve the dispute with the other party, unless it is unsafe to do so, or you claim an exemption. This means that you must try to resolve the dispute outside of court before proceeding with your application.

Unless the situation is urgent (based on the Court’s definition which may be different from yours….), or there are serious safety concerns, you should not file an application in court without following the pre-action procedures. If you don’t follow the Genuine Steps requirements, you might end up on the wrong end of Costs Order, so if you think you have an exemption applies, please get advice from a specialist family lawyer (or a community legal centre or Legal Aid if you can’t afford a lawyer). Don’t be tempted to follow the well-meaning but unqualified advice from family members, friends or Facebook groups (Facebook is a great source of incorrect legal advice from non-lawyers!).

What happens if I don’t comply with the pre-action procedures?

If you don’t comply with the pre-action procedures, your application may be adjourned (delayed) or stayed (put on hold) until you comply with the Court’s Rules. And, as we said about, you could also have a costs order made against you.

Who can issue s.60I Certificates?

A s.60I certificate can only be issued by mediators who are registered as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners with the Attorney-General’s Department. This certificate is required, along with the Genuine Steps Certificate, to file an application for parenting or financial orders in court. 

Untying the Knot can issue s.60I Certificates.

But why attend family dispute resolution in the first place?

Mediation is usually a better option than litigation, especially in family law matters where ongoing relationships are important. You will be parents for a long time, even once your kids have left home. It allows for more flexibility and control in the resolution process, and it can be less stressful for all parties involved. Family dispute resolution also allows for a more collaborative approach, where you can work together to find a solution that works for everyone in the family. When you work with Untying the Knot, you also have the benefit of our resource ‘Our Family in Two Homes‘ which our mediation clients have found helped them work better in mediation and understand what’s really important.

Coming to dispute resolution does not mean you have to give up your chance of going to court. It does means that you have made an effort to reach an agreement without going to court. Most people realise the delays in the court system and the cost – not just financially but on your entire life – involved in going to court.  So, our goal when working with you in family mediation (whether that is property mediation, child-focused mediation, or child-inclusive mediation), is to help you reach an agreement about as many issues as possible. The family law courts should be a place of last resort.

Attending family dispute resolution and obtaining a s.60I certificate is a crucial step in the process of applying for parenting orders in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. It is also a positive step to finding a solution that works for everyone involved. A lot of the time, it results in an agreement, meaning you can avoid court and move on with your life.

Book a free Discovery Call to talk about our dispute resolution options, including online and video mediation, or read about the Top 4 benefits of Family Mediation.

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