FAMILY DISPUTE RESOLUTION (FDR/Family law Mediation)…take the angst out of family separation and get your family running smoothly again.
Northern Frontiers promotes the right of every child to enjoy safe meaningful relationships with both parents/care-providers and significant others before, during and after family separation. We encourage respectful family relationships that are free from conflict…
Who Can attend Family law Mediation?
Usually parents or care-providers attend family law mediation however the process can be initiated by step-parents; grandparents and other relatives or anyone who has an ongoing interest in the care and well-being of a child before, during or after family separation.
Is Family Law Mediation compulsory?
Yes. If parents or care-providers cannot agree on a child matter they are legally required to make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute via family law mediation before asking a court to decide things for them (see below for exemptions). In most cases you can only apply directly to a court to have a parenting matter dealt with if you have a S60I certificate from an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (more commonly known as a Mediator.) The following exemptions apply:
If you are applying for Consent Orders (i.e. agreement with the other party has been reached)
If the matter is urgent (e.g. a child is at risk of harm/has been abducted etc)
When there is history of family violence and/or current family violence or child abuse
If a party is unable to mediate effectively (e.g. due to mental or emotional incapacity or geographical difficulties)
If a party has contravened and shown significant disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
If you are unsure about your family situation’s suitability for family law mediation Northern Frontiers can assist you with information or referral to a family law lawyer.
Does my child have to attend Family Law Mediation?
At Northern Frontiers we offer child-inclusive family law mediation services. When parents or care-providers disagree as to what is in their child’s best interest, the Mediator may suggest engaging a Child Consultant. A Child Consultant is a professional who speaks privately with the child and enquires about his/her experience of family life. Child consultancy is not counselling - rather it is a way of giving children a voice in decisions that will impact them in some way. Confidentiality is assured for the child, with the exception of a report to the Mediator who uses that information to guide disputing parties in their decision-making. For example, a child may report feeling sad or frightened during change-overs because his/her parents argue loudly. This would prompt the Mediator to provide examples of conflict-free change-over arrangements that have been adopted by other families with positive outcomes. The Mediator would also provide information about the risk to children’s mental health and well-being when subject to ongoing parental conflict. A Child Consultant may only be engaged when there is dual parental consent.
What information will I be provided with?
During your private Intake & Assessment Session the Mediator will provide you with information about the family law mediation process and parenting in general. This may include information about parenting plans; property agreements; confidentiality; tips for effective communication during mediation; how to talk to your child about family separation; document checklist for property settlement; the cost of mediation; dealing with different parenting styles and so on…In preparation for the intake session you will be asked to complete an online self-report. It should only take 15-20 minutes to complete the report which includes questions about your family’s functioning and current situation. The information you provide forms part of an ongoing risk assessment and is used by the Mediator to assess the appropriateness of your dispute for mediation. You will be given an opportunity to discuss your responses privately with the Mediator during your Intake & Assessment Session
Is what I say in mediation shared with anyone else?
All that you talk about throughout the family law mediation process is held in confidence and is non-admissible as evidence in any court (exceptions apply). However, if you mention a threat to someone's safety or the commissioning of serious criminal activity the Mediator may be required to notify the relevant authority. In particular, the Mediator must consider reporting suspected child abuse or risk of a child being abused.
What if I don’t feel safe?
The safety of all concerned is important to us - if you feel unsafe at any stage of the family law mediation process you are strongly advised to inform the staff at Northern Frontiers as soon as possible. This may mean mediation is delayed or cancelled however, if the Mediator assesses it safe to do so, telephone mediation may offered.
What happens if we reach agreement?
Any agreement (even partial) will be recorded by the Mediator in the form of a Record of Parenting Agreement or Record of Property Agreement. Agreements are not legally binding in this format. We recommend you seek legal advice from a family law lawyer as to your options once agreement is reached. It is a good idea to review your Parenting Agreement from time to time so you can adjust any arrangements that may not be working smoothly or are no longer necessary and to ensure your child’s changing needs are being met. In most cases this means a return to family law mediation.
What if we don’t reach agreement?
At Northern Frontiers we believe mediation is not just about reaching agreement – it’s also about disputing parties learning to share their concerns and communicate more effectively. In this way your parenting relationship can be protected from further harm - something we believe will serve your family well.
If you initiate family law mediation and for some reason it does not take place - or you attempt mediation and agreement is not reached or mediation ceases, you may be issued with a S60I certificate indicating one of the following:
the other party did not attend mediation
you and the other party attended mediation and made a genuine effort to resolve your dispute
you and the other party attended mediation but one or both of you failed to make a genuine effort to resolve your dispute
the Mediator assessed your dispute as ‘not appropriate for mediation’, or
mediation began however the Mediator assessed it as considered it ‘not appropriate to continue’.
If you receive a s60I certificate you are advised to seek legal advice from a family law lawyer as the Mediator is bound by confidentiality and will no longer be in a position to assist you.
What if I don't Wish to attend Family law Mediation?
If you do not attend family law mediation or make a genuine effort to resolve your family dispute through mediation a S60I certificate may be issued reflecting those circumstances. If your dispute matter proceeds to court you may be ordered to pay the other party's legal costs - or you may be directed back to family law mediation.
Is my dispute suitable for Family law mediation?
Anything to do with parenting may be listed as an agenda item for mediation. Agenda items might include which school your child attends; how your child spends time with each party; determining which extra-curricular activities are suitable for your child to attend; your child’s religion or involvement in cultural celebrations; back-up care providers; living arrangements for your child and so on... You can discuss your agenda items with the Mediator during pre-mediation sessions.
Who can start Family law mediation?
Anyone with an ongoing interest in the care and well-being of a child may initiate family law mediation. This includes parents (regardless of marital status or length of relationship); step-parents; grandparents, other extended family members and significant others.
What if domestic violence is present?
Abusive behaviours may impact a person’s ability to mediate safely and effectively. Mediators are trained to assess risk and will only proceed with mediation if assessed as safe to do so. Before your Intake & Assessment Session you will be asked to complete an online self-report that includes questions about your family’s functioning and well-being. This information forms part of an ongoing risk assessment. If, at any time, the Mediator identifies an unacceptable risk, mediation may cease and a S60I certificate may be issued.
Can I have a support person with me?
A support person is welcome to attend pre-mediation sessions (i.e. Intake & Assessment and Preparing to Mediate) however both parties must agree to allow support people to attend the actual mediation. The Mediator is ultimately responsible for participant safety and will therefore assess risk associated with including support people before agreeing to their inclusion.
Can I have my legal advisor with me during Family law mediation?
Parties must agree before bringing their lawyers to mediation. Lawyer-assisted mediation sessions typically take place in a meeting room determined by the Mediator or a lawyer’s office. More time is needed to organise this kind of mediation so please let Northern Frontiers’ reception staff know as early as possible if this is how you wish to proceed.
Is Family law mediation expensive?
Click here for information about our rates. Basically, the more agreement you can reach in mediation = the more time and money you save on legal fees and court costs.
Do I also need a Lawyer if I’m attending Family Law Mediation?
We strongly recommend you seek legal advice from a family law lawyer before, during and after mediation. This is to ensure your parenting or property agreement is founded in current family law principles i.e. 'in the best interest of the child' and, in relation to property, 'fair and equitable'.
Do I need expensive equipment for Telephone mediation?
No, just access to a phone and a quiet place. Although we also offer audio-visual mediation services (Zoom, Facetime, etc) most people simply use their mobile phone or landline. The Mediator will call each party into the session. So instead of worrying about complicated technology we make it easy for you to focus on the important task of resolving your family dispute.
How soon can I start?
As soon as you like! The longest you might wait for an Intake & Assessment Session is 1-3 business days. In preparation for the session you will be asked to complete an online self-report designed to inform the Mediator of your family situation. The self-report usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete.
Booking in for Family Law Mediation: In addition to normal business hours Northern Frontiers offers 7.30 am appointments for family law mediation sessions as well as Saturday and Sunday appointments - which means there's no need to disrupt your work/life schedule. Out of hours appointments tend to fill fast so please book early to avoid disappointment.
Simply call 1300 90 81 70 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org