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An Introduction to Court Ordered Counselling and Programs

It comes as no surprise that parenting matters cause an enormous amount of stress on litigating parties and their children for a multitude of reasons. Family separation is in and of itself a significant source of trauma that can cause emotions to run high for children and parents alike, however, when the added stresses of legal proceedings are thrown into the mix, acute emotional and psychological difficulties can begin to present themselves.


Can a judge make orders for family counselling?

Yes. Justice Baumann of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia frequently voices during family court proceedings what he calls a ‘mantra’ that Australia has far too many kids in counselling and not enough parents doing the same work. Section 13C of the Family Law Act provides that a court may order one or more of the parties to any proceedings to attend family counselling. Further to this, the court can also order that parties (usually the parents) encourage the participation of specified persons where the judge deems they may benefit from such therapy. This can include the children who are subject to the proceedings, maternal and paternal grandparents or other relatives such as aunts and uncles or step-parents.


What is family counselling?

The Family Law Act section 10B defines family counselling as the process where a family counsellor helps parties to address issues between them that relate to marriage, as well as helping children who have been affected or are likely to be affected by the separation or divorce of their parents.


Can a judge order program participation?

Yes! Also included under section 13C, the Family Law Act gives the court the power to order parents to attend appropriate parenting programs, courses and other services. The court may order parents to participate in programs such as the Circle of Security or Keeping Kids in Mind, regularly run by Relationships Australia and other organisations with a focus on securing and improving family dynamics.


Counselling Within a Parenting Plan

Even if you’re able to avoid your family matter going to court through a means of alternative dispute resolution, you might still decide that your family (parents and/or children) require some therapeutic support. With the assistance of your family law solicitors, your separating family may be able to sign a parenting plan which includes an agreement that parties will attend appropriate counselling. If you’re confused about parenting orders vs parenting plans, this article written by Love Family Lawyers will help to clear things up.


How can Love Family Lawyers help?

Our niche experience in the family law sector means that we’re able to guide you through tricky parenting orders with confidence. We’ll help you to advocate for what is right for your family, ensuring the best interests of children remain the paramount priority. If you’re seeking family therapy and you’re unsure where to start, contact one of our friendly family solicitors for a consultation today. We look forward to being able to assist your family through difficult times.