Family Dispute Resolution Process

Separation can be a complicated and difficult process for all involved. Often, the parties to separation are left trying to reach an agreement regarding property, children, or both. We are to help parents to move forward from their separation and start their new life.  Coming to Family Dispute Resolution mediation is a daunting thought during often a painful and confusing time which is why we are dedicated to helping you navigate this time by offering a mediation service conducted by a highly experienced and qualified mediator delivered in a safe, supportive and flexible manner.

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution is a mediation that specifically helps families resolve issues concerning parenting, like where the children will live, how much time they will spend with family, how you will communicate and how property will be divided.  Under the Family Law Act 1975, Family Dispute Resolution is compulsory (exceptions apply) prior to commencing court proceedings in relation to parenting.  The idea for this is the court wants parents to make decisions regarding to the parenting of their children rather than a judge.  We are also seeing more often that courts are referring parents back to mediation even when proceedings are on foot.

Benefits of Family Dispute Resolution

There are many benefits in FDR including:

  • Confidential;
    Mediation is private and your information and the discussions are kept confidential
  • Cost effective;
    Mediation services are cheaper than attending long and drawn out court proceedings
  • Non-adversarial;
    Mediation is about working together not against each other to find the best possible outcome
  • Future focused;
    Mediation focuses on the future you wish to create for your family not the past
  • Decision making is in your hands;
    Mediation allows you and your partner to make decisions for your children and their future
  • Faster than court
    Mediation reaches an agreement quicker than court proceedings meaning you can move forward


Safety is our number one priority which is why we conduct a safety assessment and not just get you to fill out a form.  The safety assessment is confidential (exceptions apply) and allows for you to talk to the mediator about any concerns you may have, how you are adapting to the separation and what you would like to achieve through mediation.  It is an opportunity for the mediator to explain what mediation is and answer any of your questions.

What if FDR Mediation does not go ahead?

The Family Law Act 1975 stipulates that parties must attempt mediation before commencing court proceedings in relation to parenting, there are exceptions.

There are a couple of reasons why mediation may not go ahead.  In the event the other party does not attend you will be given a section 60i certificate which is the document that must be submitted to start court proceedings.  Another reason why mediation may not go ahead is because it may be assessed as ‘unsuitable for mediation’.  Not all cases are suitable for mediation, which is why an assessment is conducted.  If your case is assessed as unsuitable then both parties will receive a section 60i certificate.

How long does a FDR Mediation take?

As a general guide Family Dispute Resolution mediations are scheduled for three hours.

How is FDR Mediation conducted?

There are different ways a FDR mediation can be conducted, including:

  • A joint session with all parties in the same room;
  • A shuttle, where the parties are in separate rooms and the mediator travels to both rooms;
  • Telephone conference;
  • Shuttle telephone;
  • Online;
  • Flexible locations; and
  • Legally assisted this is when your lawyer is present

How the FDR mediation is to be conducted is something you can discuss with the FDR mediator during the safety assessment.

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