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What is family dispute resolution?

Family dispute resolution (FDR) is sometimes also known as divorce mediation, family law mediation or alternative dispute resolution.

Mediation is one form of FDR. An independent mediator helps you and your former partner identify the issues and facilitate discussions and negotiations. Your lawyers can assist, and there’s no need for you to communicate directly with or be in the same room with your former partner if you’d rather not.

Counselling is another form of FDR, in which you and your former partner can attend sessions individually or together.

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We’ll find out more about your situation and work out what’s right for you. Then we can provide you with a written estimate of costs.

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Why should I consider using family dispute resolution?

Before you apply to court for a parenting order, the law requires that you and your former partner use dispute resolution to try to agree on parenting arrangements (unless special circumstances apply).

You must use an accredited family dispute practitioner as your mediator. If you’ve genuinely but unsuccessfully tried to resolve the issues, the family dispute practitioner can issue a certificate. The certificate will allow you to make an application to court for parenting orders. Unless the special circumstances apply, the court can’t hear your application without this certificate.

If you’re seeking parenting orders and no special circumstances apply, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is compulsory.

If you wish to apply for orders about financial agreements or property settlements, you may be required to show that you’ve attended, or attempted to participate in, FDR before applying for court orders.

Even in cases where it’s not compulsory, FDR may help. For example:

  • You may avoid the emotional and financial burden of going to court
  • It’s often quicker and less expensive than going to court
  • You have more control over the process and a greater say in the outcome

FDR may work for you. Contact us to find out more.

Are there any circumstances in which I’m not required to use family dispute resolution?

Gavel on a desk

A court may not insist on FDR if:

  • family violence has occurred or is feared;
  • child abuse has occurred or is feared; or
  • in other rare circumstances

If you believe that your situation falls into one of these categories, please contact us for advice as soon as possible.

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How long will this process take?

Depending on whether you use court services or the private services of an accredited professional, FDR may be scheduled and resolved within weeks.

Court services may take longer because of higher demand. Judicial mediation may be appropriate if all other dispute resolution avenues have failed and the parties feel that an agreement is still possible.

We can give you a more accurate idea of timeline and processes once we know more about your situation.

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