Family Dispute Resolution Information

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution ("FDR") and formerly Family Mediation is the legal term given for dispute resolution or mediation services that help couples affected by separation or divorce to sort out their family disputes.  FDR can help people to agree on a range of issues relating to property, money, and most importantly - children.

How can FDR help me?

Using their specific skill-sets and experience, FDR practitioners or mediators can provide a forum and process to help you and your former partner to come to agreement on a range of issues that you may not have been able to successfully resolve on your own.  In doing so, FDR may assist in keeping further time and costs down and your matter out of court.  

Is FDR compulsory?

If you want to apply to the Family Court for a Parenting Order or to seek changes to an existing Parenting Order than yes FDR is compulsory, with an accredited FDR practitioner, which the mediator's at PMCC are.  

If for whatever reason FDR does not work out for you then the FDR practitioner can issue you with a section 60I FDR exemption certificate, which states that you have made a 'genuine effort' to resolve your matter through FDR.  Only FDR practitioners accredited under the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 can issue these certicates for court, which the mediators at PMCC are.

Exceptions to FDR apply and include, where:
* the matter is urgent;
* are you responding to an application;
* you are applying for Consent Orders;
* there has been or there is a risk of family violence or child abuse;
* a party is unable to participate effectively due to some incapacity; or
* a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard to a court order made in the last 12 months.

The above cases will be asssessed by the FDR practitioner in your pre-mediation intake and assessment appointment.

Why should I try FDR?

You should give FDR a chance if you have not been able to resolve differences with your ex partner on your own, whether it's a compulsory first step for you or not, because if you can resolve your differences out of court you'll save yourself time, money and a whole lot of stress.  The FDR practitioner will also be able give you some tips as to how other peope in situations similar to yours resolve their differences, as well as strategies to help you and your ex partner to communicate better into the future.

What if I get invited to FDR but refuse to attend?

FDR is voluntary from your FDR practitioner's perspective, but you should bear in mind that if you don't attend FDR or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of any future court hearing on the dispute, the court may also order you to pay the other party's legal costs, and the court may also order you to attend FDR in any case.

Is FDR confidential?

Everthing said in FDR is confidential, except in certain circumstances such as to prevent a serious threat to someone's life or health or the commission of a crime.

Is information from FDR admissable in Court?

Generaly what is said in FDR cannot be used as evidence in court.  However, FDR practitioners have mandatory reporting requirements where they must report child abuse, or anything said that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, and this may be used as evidence in court in some circumstances.

What information must the FDR Practitio
ner give

Before you start FDR, your FDR practitioner must inform you about the FDR process, their qualifications and fees, and your rights.  If you are seeking FDR to resolve issues about your children, then tbe FDR pracitioner must also give you information about Parenting Plans and other services to assist you.

Does it matter who initiates FDR?

No, it does not matter who intiaties FDR, as FDR pracititioners are impartial and will not take sides.  Further, FDR pratitioners are not there to judge either or you as individuals or parents, but rather to help support you equally throught the FDR process to a resolution of your dispute.

What happens in FDR?

Before FDR can commence, you will need to meet with your FDR practitioner for a pre-mediation intake and assessment appointment, where you will be given information about the FDR process and asked questions to enable the FDR pracitioner to assess whether FDR is suitable for your situation.

If your FDR proceeds to a mediation session with the other party, then the FDR practitioner will help you to discuss issues, explore possible options, and work out how best to reach agreement.  If an agreement is reached then the FDR practitioner can help you to draw up a Parenting Plan (setting out arrangements for your children) or Property Settlement Agreement (setting out division of your assets and liabilities).  If you want to make your Parenting Plan or Property Settlement Agreement legally binding, you can apply to the court to have your agreement made into a Consent Order.

What happens if FDR doesn't work?

When FDR isn't working, the FDR practitioner can suggest other options, such as individual or family counselling.  FDR is not counselling but quite often we find that parties in dispute benefit from seeing a Counsellor to examine and work through past events that may be impacting on their life now, especially after separation or divorce.  Unresolved emotions or harbouring of negative thoughts and feelings may also impede on the progress or resolution made through FDR.  This is why PMCC is a mediation and counselling service.

If these options do not work for you, then the FDR can in their discretion issue a section 60I FDR exemption certificate for you to proceed with your dispute via an application in the Family Court.  Only FDR practitioners accredited under the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 can issue these certicates for court, which the mediators at PMCC are.

What does FDR cost?

FDR is usually quicker and cheaper than paying legal fees or going to court.  Our goal at PMCC is to keep your matter out of court and help you come to a resolution you can live with.  We aim to provide an affordable and accessible dispute resolution service, comparable to government funded agencies but without the potentially expensive and protracted litigation process and without the waitlists.  We offer reduced rate family mediation for low income earners, so don't be afraid to ask.

How do I contact an accredited FDR practitioner?

Call PMCC today on (08) 9429 8878 for a confidential obligation-free discussion or to make an appointment with one of our FDR practitioners.