Having raised two children as a single father, and being a solicitor and family mediator as well as a psychologist, Dr. Bob has a unique insight into the issues of separation and how they affect children. He works with parents who are considering separation, going through separation, or are dealing with post-separation co-parenting.
Dr. Bob knows how painful the post-separation process can be, and he's written a personal letter to parents going through this difficult process to express his feelings.
To read Dr. Bob's letter click here.
The end of a relationship can be emotionally devastating, regardless of which partner initiated it. The emotional trauma is multiplied when there are children involved. Our court system creates additional trauma and conflict for parents, when what they need is support and an opportunity to heal. Dr. Bob works with parents post separation to deal with their own feelings about the end of the relationship and to help them feel optimistic and unafraid about the future.
Parents are able to write their own parenting plan. Once both parties have agreed on the terms and sign the document it becomes an official parenting plan.
A parenting plan is a legally relevant document, but it is NOT a court order and cannot be enforced by a court or by the police. It is legally relevant in two ways: If there is a subsequent court case, the parenting plan can be submitted as evidence. Also, a new parenting plan supersedes an existing court order.
Although no specific format is required for a parenting plan, parents are welcome to use the template used by The Parenting Centre which is available here.
Dr. Bob is available to assist parents, individually or together in developing a parenting plan.
All parenting plan consults at The Parenting Centre are based on an hourly rate of $225.00.
Money, time and conflict can be saved if parties can agree on how to distribute property upon separation. Parties can prepare their own agreement in regard to their joint asset pool, and how the assets will be divided / split.
The parties can use the information on this template as the basis for an application to the Court for consent orders. Parties are welcome to use the template used by The Parenting Centre which is available here.
Dr. Bob is available to assist parties in agreeing on a property agreement.
All consults pertaining to property agreements at The Parenting Centre are based on an hourly rate of $225.00.
If parents want a court order but want to avoid the court process and conflict, they can make an application to the court to adopt their parenting plan as parenting orders. If the court agrees, their parenting plan will become a “Consent Order”; where the court is issuing an order but there is no dispute. A consent order has the exact same authority as any parenting order.
Although it is sometimes helpful to have a solicitor file the application for consent orders, it is not required, and may not be necessary if the parents don’t mind doing the required paperwork themselves.
Unfortunately, separated parents often do not agree on what is in the best interests of their child or children. Parents who are unable to reach an agreement on a parenting plan can seek mediation through organizations such as Family Relationship Centres and Relationship Australia. Alternatively they can seek “Advisory Mediation” at The Parenting Centre.
Traditionally, mediators were not permitted to share their opinions, and only worked to facilitate an agreement between the parties. Under Australian law, mediators with qualifications in other professional areas may provide “Advisory Mediation” with the consent of both parties. For example, if parents were working on a financial agreement and their mediator was a qualified accountant, the accountant could provide financial or tax advice to guide the agreement, if the parents consented.
As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Bob is able to offer the benefit of an impartial professional with over 30 years of experience, to advise parents of what may or may not be in their children's best interests. This advice has no authority; parents are free to ignore it. Typically parents genuinely want what is best for their children, and realize they are not sufficiently detached to make that assessment by themselves. For that reason, Advisory Mediation can offer a great deal more than traditional mediation.
Mediation at The Parenting Centre is based on an hourly rate of $225.00.
Dr. Bob and other professionals on the Sunshine Coast have been extremely concerned about the process by which family reports are prepared and provided to the court. Often, family report writers only spent an hour or so with each parent, and a few minutes observing the children, and then based on that minimal information, make a recommendation that is afforded significant weight by the court. Sometimes the family report writer is not trained in child development or child psychology, and may not appropriately interpret their observations.
In 2009 and 2010, Dr. Bob was involved with Lifeline in developing the “Gold Standards” for family report writers. Family reports written using the “Gold Standards” involve extensive contact with the family, including meeting with the children in their own homes where they are comfortable, and developing a rapport with the children. The objective is to try to understand their emotional, psychological and developmental needs. This process involves more work for the family report writer.
Dr. Bob believes if we truly care about protecting and supporting children in this process, the least we can do is take the time and effort to really get to know the family (and others who know the family well).