Family Lawyers Suggest Mediation to Ease Family Disputes, Stress, and Litigation Costs

March 5, 2013


Mediation in Post-Divorce Property Settlements Key to Faster and Less Costly Separation

Family Dispute Resolution is a compulsory and federally funded resolution service for separating couples disputing aspects of care related to their children. It’s generally successful and significantly easier and less expensive than taking your case to the Family Law Court.

What does family dispute resolution involve?

The non-government organisation, Relationships Australia, succinctly describes the process as involving:

  • ‘the parties listening to each other’s point of view without interruption
  • identifying issues which need to be resolved
  • sharing of relevant information
  • exploring ideas and options
  • testing possible solutions
  • putting decisions and agreements in writing.’

Who are the Family Dispute Resolution practitioners?

FDR practitioners are well-trained and highly-skilled professionals from various backgrounds in the law or social sciences. It is their job to encourage and mediate conversations about children, property and finances at the time of separation. The won’t provide you with legal advice, and it’s advisable that you see a lawyer to discuss your personal wants regarding your separation before you head into the FDR process, but they can offer you advice about how your situation pertains to the law. Decisions made during the FDR process are not legally binding, but generally form the decisions that are then written-up in agreements following the mediation process.

How does Family Dispute Resolution Benefit Separating Families?

Court is a costly and often stressful situation that should be avoided by separating and divorcing couples if possible. While the practical benefits of dispute resolution are definitely big savings when it comes to time and money, there are many emotional and psychological benefits too. This includes:

  • it’s cheaper and quicker than going to Court, saving you money and time in filing orders and delays
  • allowing both parties to maintain a sense of control; there are no imposed decisions, instead decisions must be made by both parties coming to a mutually acceptable resolution
  • creating a dialogue and structure from which parties can use to resolve future resolutions more quickly

Are there any exceptions to mandatory Family Dispute Resolution?

Yes. There are certain situations in which the Court may grant you an exemption from the mandatory process of Family Dispute Resolution. This can occur if:

  • the matter is extremely urgent
  • there is reasonable grounds for the Court to believe that family violence or child abuse has occurred in the past/is at risk of happening in the future

Are you in a domestic violence relationship? Read our fact sheet here

Is what I say confidential? Can it be used in Court?

All conversations during your FDR sessions are confidential and cannot be used as evidence in court. The only exceptions to this are if revelations made during the procedure represent a thereat to someone’s life, health or the commissioning of a crime. An FDR practitioner is required to report any accusations of child abuse or anything that indicates that a child is at risk, in some circumstances this may be used as evidence.

We’ve reached an agreement. What now?

When both parties have finally reached an agreement it’s a relatively quick and simple process for their legal teams to create legally binding parenting or financial agreements reflecting the negotiated terms. You can read more about these processes here: Parenting Arrangements | Divorce and Separation

Where can I get more information?

The following links will lead you to more information about Family Dispute Resolution. If you would like legal advice about your family law matter you can head to our Family Law page for more information or speak to us today.

Relationships Australia: Family Dispute Resolution Process

Family Court of Australia: Dispute Resolution – what is it?

The Breakup Battleground: How to Protect Your Assets & Your Family in a Divorce


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