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What is a Section 60I Certificate?

What is a Section 60I Certificate?

Monday 4th of November 2019
By: Harry Higgs, Solicitor, Coote Family Lawyers

Thank you so much for your support over the past few months. 

We have separated but can't agree parenting matters.  Why do I need a Section 60I Certificate to go to Court?

Prior to proceedings being issued under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) parties must comply with a number of pre-action procedures under the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth).   Those pre-action procedures are designed to encourage parties to resolve matters without the need for Court intervention.

One of the core pre action procedures in a parenting matter is the requirement to obtain a section 60I certificate from a registered family dispute resolution practitioner.  

A family dispute resolution (FDR) practitioner is someone who helps separated parties to resolve their disputes.  If agreement is reached through the FDR process then the parties can enter into a Parenting Plan or a Minute of Consent Order to formalise the agreement about parenting arrangements.  If however, no agreement is reached, then the FDR practitioner will issue a section 60I certificate which will allow the parties to initiate Court proceedings. 

There are four different types of section 60I certificates that can be issued, these are:

  1. You did not attend family dispute resolution because the other party failed or refused to attend;
  2. You did not attend family dispute resolution because the practitioner did not think it was appropriate;
  3. The parties attended family dispute resolution and made a genuine attempt to resolve matters;
  4. The parties attended family dispute resolution but you, or the other party, did not make a genuine attempt to resolve matters.

It is however important to note that there are a number of exemptions to the requirement to file a section 60I Certificate, such as family violence or urgency.

Once the 60I certificate is issued, you have 12 months to issue Court proceedings.  After that, the certificate is no longer valid.   

The recent case of Ellwood & Ravenhill [2019] FamCAFC 153 highlighted the importance of not only obtaining a 60I certificate prior to issuing proceedings, but also the need for the certificate to be valid.

In this case, the Father issued proceedings in October 2018 seeking different parenting orders to those made by consent in 2008.  In his Initiating Application he stated that he had obtained a Section 60I certificate.  However, the  certificate attached to his Application was dated 7 April 2017.  Ultimately, the Father’s Application was dismissed as he had not complied with a mandatory requirement nor had he met any of the exemptions.

Coote Family Lawyers are recognised as one of the top family law firms in Melbourne.  If you have any queries regarding what steps to take following separation, please contact one of our team of family law specialists on (03) 9804 0035.

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You’ve done an excellent job in covering all points we discussed and it was as if I had written the letter myself! 

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