Our Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) services assist separating and divorcing couples and their children to resolve disputes without needing to take action in the Family Court.
The Family Law Act requires separating families to make a genuine effort to resolve their parenting issues at FDR before making an application to court (although some exceptions apply). Currently there are no legal requirements to resolve financial issues before applying to court, however Family Dispute Resolution is the quickest and most cost effective process for reaching a settlement.
With the assistance of an impartial third party, family dispute resolution helps identify issues and together we develop a range of options and alternatives, with the goal to reach a settlement that is suitable to all.
Each party meets separately with an FDR practitioner for a confidential assessment. If FDR is deemed appropriate, a joint mediation is scheduled. If you are discussing property or financial matters, we may suggest that you obtain legal advice. We deal with issues relating to children, parenting plans, contact with grandparents, blended family issues, parent and adolescent issues, communication breakdowns, relocation, passports, property and financial issues.
Our practitioners are accredited and registered with Attorney Generals Department and maintain National Mediator Accreditation (NMAS). This service is offered at all of our Family Centres – located in Artarmon, Brookvale, Tuggerah & Waitara and all fees are subsidised and are reasonable.
All modes of communication were blocked & it felt like there was no way forward, but we learnt there was.
The following may assist families who are experiencing separation and need supporting in navigating the world of co-parenting.
KEEPING KIDS IN MIND
Parents love their children and want the best for them. Following separation, parenting can get tougher. This 5 week course is for separated parents who are experiencing on-going conflict designed to assist parents in seeing the separation through their children’s eyes. It provides tips on how to best support children following family separation.
PARENTS 4 LIFE
An online pre-mediation course that helps you get the most out of mediation. This course covers parental behaviours that help and hurt children after separation. All our Family Centre’s offer this online course.
Our Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation Services
Family breakdown is a reality we don’t like to face. The decision to divorce is never easy, and as anyone who has been through it will tell you, the painful experience can scar adults and children for many years. Getting the right support, at the right time can reduce the long-term impact … and that’s where we can help.
The importance of co-parenting
It can take some time for two parents to get to the point where they can say their co-parenting relationship is going well. For most families, there is always room for improvement but we’re here to give you some tips to accentuate the positive and work towards resolving any conflicts.
more information & bookings
Separating is really tough. We are here to help.
Reach out and find out more today.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am not Catholic, can I still access your service?
Yes, our service is open to all.
Can you tell me more about Family Dispute Resolution?
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a form of Mediation where the practitioners (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners or FDRPs) specialise in working with clients in the shadow of the Family Law Act. FDRPs are accredited under the Attorney-General’s Department to provide a confidential mediation process for separated parents who need assistance managing their discussions and, where appropriate, staying out of Court.
The process is voluntary and any agreements reached are not legally binding and not admissible in the Family Court. The Mediator/FDRP is a neutral and unbiased third party who is trained to assist clients by providing a process and a safe space for clients to discuss issues and hopefully reach agreements in the best interests of their children.
Mediators cannot give advice, and they don’t decide what clients talk about or agree to. Their focus is on the best interests of kids. Your Mediator will give you information about the best way to support your kids through your separation.
Who can be assisted by our Mediation/FDR team?
The Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) and Mediation team can assist anyone who is in dispute with another person and will mediate matters where it is appropriate to do so. We specialise in working with separated parents on parenting and property settlement matters but can also assist in other types of mediations. If you’re unsure, contact us for an assessment.
What sorts of things are discussed in a mediation about parenting?
Parenting mediation is a useful process for separated parents to communicate and possibly reach agreement on issues related to co-parenting, in the best interests of their children. Where communication is strained, it can be difficult to co-parent effectively and making decisions can feel impossible. We can assist parents to discuss any agreed issue that relates to their co-parenting.
Common issues that are discussed in parenting mediations might include how the kids will spend time with their parents, how communication will take place (involving both the parents and the kids), how decisions will be made for the kids, how the wellbeing of kids can be maintained, how child related expenses will be paid, how the kids will celebrate important events with their parents and extended family, how special days such as birthdays and Christmas will be managed and how holidays and travel can be enjoyed.
Is there a way that my child can have input in mediation?
Parenting mediations are focussed on the best interests of children, and one of the best ways for parents to have insight into what that looks like, is through a process called Child Inclusive Practice (CIP) where a child’s voice is brought into the mediation room. In this process, both parents consent to having a Child Consultant assess their case and, where appropriate, speak with their child/ren to be able to form a view of how the child/ren is doing in their current situation. With the consent of the child, the consultant can then provide feedback to the parents, allowing them to discuss relevant issues and make informed agreements in mediation.
Child Inclusive Practice is not therapy. The child has one session with the consultant – talking and/or playing and drawing (depending on the age of the child). It is often quite an enjoyable experience for the kids who appreciate the attention and the opportunity to be heard. Children never participate against their will.
At no time are the children asked to make decisions. Decision making is the role of parents, and it is outside of the responsibility of kids to make decisions relating to their living arrangements.
Nothing that is said by the Child Consultant, or any other documents or discussions that take place within mediation are admissible to the Family Court. CIP is designed to give the child/ren a voice in mediation, not to produce evidence in a Family Court matter.
What if the other person doesn’t want to mediate with me?
Mediation is, by definition, voluntary. Sometimes the other party to a dispute is not willing to engage in the mediation process. In parenting matters, where one party has been contacted by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and has declined to be involved, the other party may request a Certificate indicating that they attempted to have a mediation. This Certificate is called a 60i Certificate and is required before a parenting application can be made in the Family Court.
There is no 60i Certificate for property matters, or for any other type of mediation.
We aim to speak with both parties to explain the process of mediation and determine their willingness to be involved, however we cannot compel a person to attend against their will.
What is the process for mediation?
The process of mediation begins when one party contacts our Intake Worker on 1800 324 924. We collect some information about you and your situation. The matter is then assigned to a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) who will contact you, answer any questions you have, and book an individual assessment appointment. This appointment allows the FDRP to understand the situation, discuss the issues in dispute, undertake a risk assessment and, importantly, to decide whether the case is appropriate for mediation. Once this appointment is complete, the other party is sent an invitation to contact the FDRP about mediation. If the other party is willing, an individual assessment appointment is carried out for them also. If the FDRP considers that the case is appropriate, a joint mediation session will be booked for the clients.
Often a case requires more than one mediation session. These sessions are up to three hours long and there isn’t a limit as to how many clients can have.
Every step of the process is voluntary, and clients are not required to make agreements or to discuss anything that they do not wish to discuss.
Is the outcome of a mediation legally binding?
If clients reach agreement in mediation, the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will document their agreements and send it out to the clients in the form of a Parenting Agreement, Property Agreement, or Mediation Agreement. These agreements are not legally binding. They are goodwill agreements.
If a Parenting Agreement is signed and dated by both parties, it becomes a Parenting Plan, which is then admissible in the Family Court, however it is still not legally binding.
To make an agreement legally binding, it needs to be converted into Consent Orders (with the consent of both parties) and filed with the Court.
Can I use information from mediation in my Family Court matter?
Section 10J of the Family Law Act specifies that anything that is discussed or agreed to in Family Law mediations is inadmissible in the Family Court. This means that any notes or documents produced by the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner are protected if a subpoena is issued. If agreements are reached and documented in a Parenting Agreement, and the Parenting Agreement is signed and dated by both parties, it becomes a Parenting Plan which is admissible in the Family Court.
How much does it cost to have mediation?
Is mediation confidential?
Mediation is confidential – practitioners are required to keep your information and your discussions confidential, from the other party and, also from people outside your case. We recommend that you are careful about who you share information about your mediation with, having regard for the sensitive nature of discussions about your children. Only the parties to the mediation, and any support people (either personal or professional) who both parties have consented to, will be present in the mediation.
We are mandatory reporters which means that any disclosure that leads to a concern for another person’s safety will be reported to the relevant body. In addition, practitioners must disclose a communication which would be necessary to comply with a relevant law. Our mandatory reporting obligations are the only exceptions to the confidentiality of the process.
What are the options for appointment and mediation times?
We have practitioners available between 9.00am and 5.00pm from Monday to Friday. We do not offer weekend or out of hours appointments. Assessment appointments are around 1 – 1.5 hours, and mediations are booked for 3 hours.
Can I mediate online? Do I have to be in the same space at the other party?
We offer online mediations in situations where that is preferable for clients. We also offer the option of face-to-face mediations in our Waitara, Brookvale and Tuggerah Family Centres. Each case is assessed to determine what is most appropriate for both clients, including whether the clients will be in the same room/online space or kept separate for all or part of the mediation session.
Can I have a mediation for a property settlement too?
We offer property settlement mediations which is an option for the resolution of property disputes in a way that saves time and money. The property mediation process requires some preparation such as the completion of property pool information, the collection of documents and the receipt of independent legal advice in relation to contributions (financial and non-financial) and resources and future needs in advance of the mediation. All of this preparation is required to ensure that the mediation is an effective process allowing client to share information and proposals.
If clients reach agreement in mediation, these agreements are documented in a Heads of Agreement document which can be taken to a solicitor for conversion into Consent Orders for the Family Court.
What is a 60i Certificate and how can I get one? What if my matter is determined to be inappropriate for mediation?
A 60i Certificate is issued to allow a party to make a parenting application to the Family Court for Parenting Orders in situations where agreements in relation to parenting are not able to be made in mediation. It is valid for a period of 12 months and is only issued by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) in the following situations:
- If one party is unwilling to engage in the mediation process, the other party may request a 60i Certificate to enable the Court to make Orders in relation to parenting.
- If the FDRP has assessed both parties and has made a determination that the case is not suitable for mediation. This is decided by reference to Regulation 25 of the FDRP Regulations 2008.
- If a mediation has taken place, but some of the issues remain in dispute, or agreements are not being followed and further mediation is not possible.
- If a mediation has taken place, and the FDRP has decided that mediation is no longer suitable.
If a client’s matter is not appropriate for mediation, or a 60i Certificate is issued for another reason, we suggest that legal advice is sought in relation to next steps.
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