What is Family Dispute Resolution?

December 1, 2015

CBD Family Lawyers actively encourages all of our clients to take part in Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’) as a way of resolving family law disputes without the need of  intervention by the Family Law Courts. FDR is a voluntary process that allows both parties to attend mediation to discuss both parenting and financial issues.

Prior to commencing Family Law proceedings, it is necessary for parents to make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute and attend FDR. Relationships Australia is an organisation that specialises in facilitating FDR and can accomplish the difficult task of having parents consider the impact of separation upon children. It is an important skill of  practicing mediators to relate the discussions back to the best interests of the children of a relationship and ensure that this primary concern is adequately addressed.

Prior to the commencement of dispute resolution, each participant is generally assessed to determine his or her suitability for the process. Once this requirement is satisfied and both parties are in attendance for a dispute resolution session, the process will generally involve ta number of steps. To start, each party will have the opportunity to share their point of view, without any interruption from the other parties and the parenting and financial issues that need resolution will be clearly identified. If there is any relevant information needing to be disclosed then this will occur. The next step is for both parties to be invited to suggest options to resolve the matter whereby possible resolutions will be discussed and assessed. Finally, if a decision is reached, this agreement will be put in writing.

The process is useful in that it allows an impartial third party to assist individuals in discussing their issues, explore options and ultimately develop the best way to reach an agreement, inclusive of parenting plans. Parents have the opportunity through family dispute resolution to resolve conflict and address issues relating to separation, particularly making appropriate arrangements for the care of children. These dispute resolution sessions can take up to 2 hours and can occur over a period of months, which is beneficial to parties that require time to give consideration to any issues discussed. If in the instance, a parenting or financial agreement has been reached, the parties have the option of making it legally binding by applying to the Family Law Courts for a consent order.

In addition to family dispute resolution services, Relationships Australia is able to offer a variety of services including the Child Contact Service, which enables parents to make contact arrangements through the assistance of an independent third party. Furthermore, should Family Law proceedings be commenced in the Family Law Courts, an order can be sought for Property Mediation provided by Relationships Australia. Property Mediation has been highly successful in resolving financial disputes and allows a greater opportunity for resolution than a Conciliation Conference may offer. Family Dispute Resolution is useful non-arbitrary process that is flexible and far more efficient than the Family Law Courts and is more likely to preserve the relationships of the parties involved. It is favourable to both parties who willing to participate in this process, as the decisions are agreed upon and parties can have some control in making decisions. It is not always the case that family dispute resolution will yield a successful outcome and in these instances, there may be no other alternative to initiating proceedings in the Family Law Courts.

CBD Family Lawyers are able to provide assistance in these circumstances to define what it is that our clients are seeking in terms of financial and parenting orders and help them achieve the best outcome. Should you wish to arrange a Family Dispute Resolution or seek advice in relation to family law matters, feel free to call our firm on (03) 9642 3517 located in the Melbourne CBD.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general overview of the subject matter and is not be relied upon as giving legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.