Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a family law mediation process designed to assist separated families sort out their parenting and property issues without the inconvenience, distress and financial expense of going to court.
Family separation can be a time of great stress and uncertainty - especially for children.
What is Family Dispute Resolution? It’s really just a specialised form of family mediation.
Family law in Australia has undergone a number of changes in recent decades, with the introduction of compulsory mediation for separated families being one of the most notable. Put simply, separated families who cannot reach agreement around a child matter are now legally required to make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute through family law mediation before asking a court to decide things for them (exceptions apply). Of relevance to this requirement is the fact that the overriding principles of family law legislation are now grounded in the rights of the child and the responsibilities of parents and care providers.
Mediation offers a neutral space in which parents and care-providers can discuss parenting and property issues with a view to developing a Parenting Plan or Property Agreement that best meets the changing needs of their family.
Family law mediators (also known as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) are legally obligated to remain impartial, provide information about family separation and create an environment in which parents and care-providers can speak openly and honestly about their family situation. All that is said in mediation remains confidential and cannot be used as evidence in any court in Australia (exceptions apply).
Mediation basically offers a way for families to remain in control of their family’s future.
Who can initiate family law mediation? Anyone with an ongoing interest in the care and well-being of a child can initiate mediation for the purpose of establishing a Parenting Plan or Property Agreement. This includes parents (regardless of marital status or length of relationship); step-parents; grandparents, other extended family members and significant others. Family law legislation also covers separated families who do not have children and would like to end their financial relationship.
What is involved in family law mediation at Northern Frontiers? Northern Frontiers offers a staged mediation process as follows:
Step 1: Intake & Assessment undertaken individually by initiating party (Party A). Permission sought to contact the other party and assess their willingness to mediate. If 'Yes' we proceed as follows...
Step 2: Intake & Assessment undertaken individually by other party (Party B)
Step 3: Preparing to Mediate session undertaken by Party A.
Step 4: Preparing to Mediate session undertaken by Party B.
Step 5: 1st mediation session - facilitated by an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (aka Mediator).
Additional mediation sessions may be required depending on the number of agenda items and progress made in 1st mediation session.
The Mediator records any agreement made in the form of a Parenting Plan or Property Agreement. Both parties receive a copy of their agreement along with referral to legal advice and/or other services where assessed as appropriate.
IMPORTANT: In some circumstances the Mediator may assess your matter as 'not appropriate for mediation' and issue a S60I certificate. This may occur at any stage of the mediation process. Because mediators are bound by strict confidentiality you are encouraged to direct any questions you may have about a S60I certificate to a family law lawyer.
Recommended Reading: Julie Hodge, one of Cairns’ leading family law lawyers, recently published a book called ‘Moving On - What you need to know about Separation and Divorce’ in the hope it may assist people affected by family separation as they move through the family law system. For more information, or to purchase a copy, please click here.
Is mediation expensive? Northern Frontiers is a family-owned and operated business offering prompt fee-for-service mediation to Far North Queensland (including rural and remote locations) and the wider Australian community. Our family law mediation services are offered in person or via telephone - which means you have the option of mediating from the comfort of your own home if you so wish. No need to spend time and money on travel or disrupt your work week. We strive to keep fees low whilst still maintaining high quality, personalised service. Our resources are well-managed which means there are no lengthy wait times. You can usually complete the Intake and Assessment Session within 1-3 days (including weekends) of your initial inquiry.
Is my matter appropriate for family law mediation? Northern Frontiers believes every family situation is unique which is why our services are personalised and tailored towards understanding and meeting your family’s individual needs. We believe most parents and care-providers want to help their children cope well with family separation so we’re here to listen to your concerns and provide information designed to assist you in reaching child-friendly parenting or property agreements.
Do I also need a lawyer? The short answer is ‘most definitely Yes’. Northern Frontiers strongly recommends 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 terms of property, 'fair and equitable'.
How soon can I get started? As soon as you like! The longest you might wait for an Intake and Assessment Session is 1-3 days (including weekends). This is your first formal step in taking control of your family situation so that all involved can move on…
Appointment times: In addition to normal business hours, Northern Frontiers offers 7.00 am appointments as well as Sunday mornings. No need to disrupt your work 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