When you are experiencing a family law dispute, the Court expects you to attempt to reach agreement (where it is safe to do so) by compromise, discussion and dispute resolution. Further, that you will only make an application to the Court as a last resort because there is no other way to resolve your dispute.
Before any application can be filed and with very few exceptions in parenting matters, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is mandatory.
What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?
FDR means the range of services especially tailored to assist you to resolve your disputes arising from divorce or separation, and to possibly improve your relationship with the other parent. There are several ways to assist you to find solutions.
Dispute resolution includes collaborative practice, conciliation, mediation or FDR and negotiation through lawyers. Family dispute resolution practitioners are valuable because that they are independent and give separating parents advice and support in the discussion of their children’s needs to agree on parenting arrangements, ideally, without involving lengthy and costly court proceedings.
Dispute resolution may occur within the Court or it can take place outside of the court at a community-based organisation or with private practitioners. Sometimes, the Court may order you to attend dispute resolution after Court proceedings have started. If so, you will have to follow the order. If you do not comply, there can be costs awarded against you.
If you attend FDR with a judicial registrar, private mediator, or court child expert, they will provide you with a certificate of Dispute Resolution.
While family relationship centres and the family dispute resolution practitioners who work within family relationship centres provide advice, information, dispute resolution and other useful services, they DO NOT provide legal advice. It is important that you make your appointment to talk to our caring, experienced, and knowledgeable family lawyers at Anumis Legal to make sure that you know your rights and obligations under the law. Contact us today on 07 5455 6347 to schedule your free consultation!
What can Family Dispute Resolution help you to figure out?
Which parent the child or children lives with
Which parent the child or children spends time with
Whether a parent has sole responsibility or shared parental responsibility
Family Dispute Resolution can help you resolve the tricky details around your parenting arrangements for your children including:
How changeovers might work and where
Time spent during the school term
Time spent during holiday time
Times spent on special days such as birthdays, mother’s day and father’s day
Restraints to protect the child or children such as who the child or children must not see or be near
How communication between parents and between parents and children will work
We can assist with Family Dispute Resolution for a range of different matters
We can help you navigate the complexities of Family Dispute Resolution and the variety of different disagreements that may occur during this time. Click the boxes below to learn more.
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
You must make a genuine effort to resolve any dispute about matters that may be dealt with by a Court Order under Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 before you file a parenting application.
You can attend a Family Relationship Centre for information, individual sessions and referral, without any cost to you. Joint dispute resolution sessions are available so that you can attempt to resolve your property and parenting matters free, for one hour per couple, or for a charge in accordance with a fee policy based on your income(s). You can click this link to find out more: https://www.familyrelationships.gov.au/find-local-help.
The Court offers FDR, with a judicial registrar. When you reach an agreement at Court-based FDR, your arrangements can be made into binding court orders. If you reach an agreement outside of Court, your agreement is not automatically binding and your Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner must explain this to you.
To resolve your disagreements about parenting or property matters, you can participate in mediation which is a dispute resolution process, assisted by an independent third party to assist you to resolve the issues in dispute.
Mediation can occur before court proceedings have started, or after proceedings have commenced. Agreements about arrangements for your child or children, which are reached during Mediation can be formalised either in a parenting plan, or, if your circumstances mean that you prefer to be able to enforce the agreement you have made, then you a court can make the orders, which are known as Orders by Consent, or Consent Orders.
There are child inclusive mediation processes. You can find out specific details by asking our expert Anumis legal advisors or by talking to mediators, child experts, family dispute resolution practitioners or Family Relationship Centres.
If, on separation or divorce, your financial arrangements are in dispute, an independent Conciliator, will help you and the other party(ies) to settle your financial disagreements to give you finality.
Within the Court, Conciliation Conferences are conducted by a judicial registrar who will consider your situation from both sides and assist you to find options for settling your disagreement without having to take any further legal action. A judicial registrar, cannot give you legal advice and so it is very important for you to talk to our Anumis Legal experts for advice. The judicial registrar can formalise your agreement into binding Consent Orders.
You will need to gather all the information you need for a Conciliation Conference, before a judicial registrar will make an order of a Conciliation Conference. Again, you can ask our Anumis Legal experts for advice on the information you will need to produce, in your specific circumstances.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia produce a helpful factsheet titled “Conciliation Conference”.
If you have a financial dispute, you can participate in a process with an independent arbitrator. During Arbitration, parties present arguments and evidence to the independent arbitrator, who makes a decision. The arbitrator is appointed by the parties and, with their agreement, the court can make an order referring parties to arbitration. Parties can also participate in private arbitration.
What are the benefits of Family Dispute Resolution?
If you are looking for a more cost effective, more immediate and less stressful way to resolve your parenting and financial disagreements after you have separated, or even if you are looking to separate amicably then Dispute Resolution may be an appropriate way to find solutions, rather than Court proceedings. Court proceedings are notoriously expensive, lengthy and anxiety provoking.
It is worth considering the following benefits of dispute resolution:
Reduced conflict for you and your children
Improved relationship(s) with the other parent or party(ies)
You have more control over your own decisions because all parties are involved in reaching agreement
Learn more effective ways to communicate with the other parent or party(ies)
Your agreement has a greater chance of lasting the test of time
The possibility easier resolution of future disputes should they arise
What is the cost of FDR and who pays?
Within the Court, FDR is free. If you attend a Conciliation Conference to agree your financial arrangements, then the Family Law (Fee) Regulations 2012, determines the fee you will need to pay.
If you attend dispute resolution within community-based organisation then you will need to arrange the appointment yourself and you will have to meet the costs. Some services are Government subsidised and the fee payable depends on our financial position.
Private mediators and FDR practitioners determine their own fees and you will need to meet these costs. The same is true of post-separation parenting programs that may be ordered by the court, or agreed by Consent between you and the other parent.
Is a family dispute resolution program compulsory?
Before you can bring an application before the court for parenting orders, you and your former partner must have attended a dispute resolution program and obtained a certificate. Section 601(9) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) lists exceptions to the requirement to attend family dispute resolution as follows:
The application is urgent;
The application is made by consent;
One or more of the parties is unable to participate effectively in family dispute resolution, such as if either you or your former partner live in a remote area;
The application is made in response to an application another party has made under Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth);
The court is satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that there has been or there is a risk of abuse of a child by either you or your former partner, or there has been or there is a risk of family violence by either you or your former partner;
The application relates to a breach, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has shown a serious disregard for their obligations under the order;
Any other reason set out in the Family Law Act.
We pride ourselves on confidentiality
You can rest assured that your communications with a family dispute resolution practitioner are confidential, except where consent is provided that disclosure is necessary. The reasons that it would be necessary to reveal information include:
To provide a Section 601 certificate;
To assist the independent children’s lawyer in their role;
In order to protect a child, on the reasonable belief of the practitioner
To report or prevent an offence involving violence or the threat of violence;
To prevent or reduce a serious and imminent threat to the health, life, or the property of the person.
Contact us today to discuss your Family Dispute Resolution needs
When you are thinking about separating, and after you separate, it can seem impossible to work out your child care and/or financial arrangements. Our Anumis Legal Dream Team are here to advise, guide and support you to your best solutions. Every family has its own unique issues, and our experienced, patient and wise legal experts are ready to help you.
If you and your former partner or spouse cannot agree your parenting arrangements to care for your child or children; or you are struggling to agree your post-separation financial arrangements and you want finality, then the sooner you get advice from the Anumis Legal Dream Team, the better. For your complimentary chat in confidence, call now on 07 5455 3647 or email email@example.com.
Meet Our Team
Dr John Cronin holds a Master’s Degree in Business Management, a PHD in socially responsible investment, and is pursuing a further PHD in superannuation law. In his earlier engineering career, he led numerous large-scale equipment design and infrastructure development projects. A former financial and investment advisor, Dr John has a wealth of experience across banking, finance, and investment.
Nadine Love holds a Master’s Degree in Dramatherapy. In her earlier career as an author, mentor and trainer through her books, products, and coaching services she assisted people to transform their personal and professional lives to find confidence, clarity, success, and wellbeing. Nadine was awarded the 2020 NSW Bar Association Prize for Civil Litigation and Evidence.
You can depend on our Commercial Law and Family Law firm to get to know you and your needs in depth. Our expert legal advice, courteously tailored to your specific circumstances, is at your right hand to that you can make well informed choices round the clock. We have your back.
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