The family advocate is the institution that assists the parents to reach an agreement on disputed issues - such as the care, contact and guardianship of the child - free of charge.
When parents fail to reach an agreement with regards to their child's current and future circumstances, the family advocate evaluates their specific situation and makes recommendations to the court regarding the care, guardianship and contact of the child.
The family advocate promotes and protects the interest of the children in parental responsibilities and rights disputes.
Generally, the Office of the Family Advocate is made up of lawyers (family advocates) and social workers (family counsellors) who work in multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that the best interest of the child remains a priority throughout the dispute resolution process.
The powers and duties of the family advocate are:
The powers and duties of the family advocate have been extended by the Children's Act, making it compulsory for parents to attend mediation by a family advocate in parental rights and responsibilities disputes over a child.
You can consult with a family advocate if you have a divorce pending in court, or if you have minor or dependent children whose care, contact and guardianship are being disputed.
Any divorce settlement agreements or parenting plans should also be endorsed by a family advocate prior to a divorce being granted.
You will also need to consult with the family advocate when:
For family advocates who use proven techniques of alternate dispute resolution, while working in liaison with other professionals (such as psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers) in order to assist your family and ensure that the best interest of your child remains a top priority, contact Van Deventer and Van Deventer Incorporated.
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