The court imposes mandatory dispute resolution prior to applying to the court for child related matters in hopes that couples are able to resolve their issues and reach an agreement on their own terms.
Some couples will fall short of this goal and will have to resort to litigation to reach an agreement. However, some couples will succeed and, viola! The dispute resolution will have been effective and agreement, which once seemed impossible, has occurred.
So what happens once you reach an agreement?
The details of the agreement can be recorded in a parenting plan, which can be renegotiated over time. The agreement must be written, dated, and both parties must sign it in order for it to be valid. If you intend to make this plan permanent and final, you can subsequently apply to the court to have the agreement made into a consent order, in which case it becomes legally binding.
Bear in mind that changes made in your parenting plan may in turn have an affect on child support, income support, and family assistance payments. Also, if your parenting plan dictates an amount for child support, the Child Support Agency has the authority to enforce the agreement.