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What to Expect from the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Process

July 25, 2023

What to Expect from the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Process

Dispute resolution services provide an affordable and timely option for resolving disputes while allowing you more significant input into the process and the outcome.


Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

People in dispute should attempt to resolve conflicts by compromise, discussion and dispute resolution (if it is safe to do so) before applying to the Court.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is mandatory in parenting matters, with limited exceptions, before an application to the Court can be made. This is designed to help parents seek the professional assistance of a nationally accredited mediator who can work with them to achieve an outcome that is in the children’s best interests.

With the assistance of the practitioner (mediator), the people involved:

  • identify the issues that need to be resolved
  • are supported to communicate with each other clearly and respectfully
  • explore and discuss different ideas and options
  • negotiate these options
  • try and make agreements about some or all of these issues
  • where a child is involved, focus on the child’s best interests.


The FDR/mediation process

Family Dispute Resolution can happen in a variety of ways, such as:

  • jointly, with both parties in the same room
  • shuttle, with the parties in separate rooms and the mediator going between
  • with the help of family lawyers (also known as legally-assisted FDR).

Your practitioner (mediator) will determine the most appropriate for you and your circumstances.


Role of the FDR Practitioner/Mediator

The FDR Practitioner (mediator) manages and facilitates the FDR process. The participants decide what to talk about and determine what decisions are made.


FDR Practitioners/Mediators do the following:

  • act impartially and independently
  • facilitate the discussion and manage the FDR/mediation process
  • keep in mind the ability of the people involved to communicate and negotiate in the process
  • maintain confidentiality (within legal limits)
  • provide appropriate information and referrals.


FDR Practitioners/Mediators do not:

  • provide legal advice
  • make decisions for the participants
  • advocate on behalf of a participant


The complexity of the issues, the level of cooperation or conflict and the availability of the mediator and parties can all impact how many appointments and how long FDR/mediation will take.


Intake assessment sessions usually last one to one and a half (1-1.5) hours.


FDR/mediation sessions can be from two (2) hours long. Longer sessions will be required if using the ‘shuttle’ FDR process or an interpreter is needed. FDR /mediation for parenting matters can take up to a whole day.


Section S60I certificates

It is a requirement under the Family Law Act 1975 that separating couples wanting to apply to the Court for a parenting order need to indicate that a genuine effort to resolve the dispute by family dispute resolution has been attempted.

To show that a genuine attempt was made, couples must obtain a certificate 60I. Only registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners/Mediators can issue a Section 60I certificate.


Five types of section 60I certificates can be issued, these are:

  • you did not attend because the other party refused or failed to attend;
  • you did not attend because the practitioner (mediator) considered that your circumstances were not appropriate for Family Dispute Resolution;
  • you did not attend, and the parties did not make a genuine effort to resolve the issues; or
  • you did attend, and the other party (or you) did not make a genuine effort to resolve issues.
  • You and the other party started the mediation process, but the practitioner considered it inappropriate to continue.


The Court requires that a copy of the Section 60I certificate be filed with the Court Application.


Benefits of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Dispute resolution allows you to reach an agreement about legal and co-parenting issues that are important to you—allowing both parties to be involved in reaching a solution and improving the chances that the agreement will last into the future. In turn, this also reduces conflict for you and your children.


Dispute resolution is a more affordable, timely, and less stressful means of resolving disputes than a court process or trial.


If you would like to know more or need advice regarding your family law matter, please get in touch with us at Umbrella Family Law on (03) 9279 6800.

At Umbrella Family Law, we take a holistic approach to assisting our clients, and we can provide you and your family with more than just legal advice. If you want to learn more, please get in touch with Umbrella Family Law for a confidential discussion today. 

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