Experiencing a family breakdown can be highly emotional and stressful for all involved. Fortunately, Court is not the only option to resolve parenting and property matters.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a form of mediation designed to assist couples and families going through separation in reaching their own mutually acceptable agreements. It is an effective alternative to court proceedings and litigation.


Why mediation with Marsdens Law Group?

Mediation in a family law dispute setting allows parties to come together in a neutral, voluntary and confidential setting to explore options for parenting arrangements and property matters post separation. The aim is to reach an agreement without the matter escalating further or requiring interference or determination by a Court or Judge.

At Marsdens Law Group, we see mediation as more than just an ‘alternative’ to Court: it should be the primary way parties seek to resolve their property and parenting disputes.

However, we recognise that sometimes mediation it is not appropriate in every matter, particularly in cases involving family violence. Our expert team take the safety of all parties seriously and undertake ongoing risk assessment after speaking to both parties and completing the intake process.


What will the mediation process involve?

Parties can attend the mediation on their own or with their lawyers. Once you have decided to engage in the mediation process, there are several important steps in the process which our team will guide you through:

  1. Mediation Agreement: our team will provide the parties and their legal representatives with a copy of the Mediation Agreement, which includes the schedule of costs and confidentiality agreement, for you to consider, sign and return to us prior the mediation.
  2. Venue: we offer dispute resolution both virtually and face to face, jointly or in a shuttle setting. Our team will discuss with you the most appropriate setting, considering the location of the parties and if there are any safety concerns or risks. We offer all services across Sydney and Australia-wide.
  3. Mediator's Role: the Mediator is a nationally accredited mediator or family dispute resolution practitioner. Their role is a neutral one. The Mediator oversees a confidential, safe process that affords everyone the best opportunity to resolve their family law matter. Whilst the Mediator does not give parties legal advice, they may adopt an evaluative approach whereby the parties invite the Mediator to provide suggestions to assist them to reach an agreement.
  4. Preliminary Conference: as soon as we are engaged to conduct the mediation, our team will be in contact with you and/or your legal representative to arrange a preliminary conference. This usually occurs over the phone or via teams, and forms part of the mediation process where you will speak with your Mediator in a confidential setting with just you and your legal representative.
  5. Joint Mediation Conference: after all parties have participated in separate preliminary conferences, all parties will be invited to attend and participate in a joint mediation conference. This is a voluntary, confidential process where the Mediator will assist the parties to reach a resolution to their family law dispute.
  6. Agreement: if you are able to reach either a final, partial-final or interim agreement, the Mediator will assist with confirming the agreements reached on the day. The parties will then need to seek legal advice in relation whether any agreement is then made into a Court order or parenting plan thereafter.

Although the aim of a mediation is to finalise a dispute, if no agreement is reached, the sessions can prove useful in narrowing the issues and helping parties communicate better in the future.


Is the process confidential?

All discussions held during mediation and family dispute resolution are confidential and, accordingly, any information exchanged between the parties cannot be used in subsequent Court litigation. There are exceptions to this rule, such as where threats are made against the other person or the other person’s property, or there is a disclosure that a child may have been subjected to abuse or there is a risk of abuse.


Who will be my Mediator?

Parties and legal professionals looking to resolve their disputes outside of the Court process will have the expert assistance of Brett McGrath, our Partner in charge of Family Dispute Resolution, and Nevine Youssef, helping them bring an end to the often difficult and expensive family law separation process.

Whether you have just separated from your partner or spouse, or are looking for a way to escape the family law Court system, Brett has a proven track record of ‘settling the unsettlable’ during his time as a Senior Judicial Registrar at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in Sydney. Brett also played a pivotal role in the development of the new pathway for families to resolve their disputes in mediation in the Court and was the Director for National Registrar Practice for the Court across Australia. Brett is a Nationally Accredited Mediator (NMAS) and is a also member of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM).

With Brett’s experience sitting on the bench of the Court hearing and determining complex interim property, parenting and spousal maintenance disputes, he also enjoyed an Australia-wide and renowned reputation as a sensible, fair-minded and experienced judicial officer.

Our Family Law Partner, Nevine Youssef, is Accredited by the Attorney General’s Department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and strives to provide the best quality and most cost effective FDR service. Nevine has knowledge and experience as an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Independent Children’s Lawyer to assist parties to navigate, discuss and resolve their disputes without litigation.

Marsdens Law Group is proud to have Brett and Nevine assisting families in resolving their property and parenting disputes. 


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Booking your Family Dispute Resolution Mediation

If you have recently experienced a separation or a family breakdown and are having difficulty reaching an agreement over property or parenting arrangements, then Family Dispute Resolution could be the solution for you. At Marsdens Law Group, our team is here to help you navigate the process, assist you in finding workable solutions to your disputes and achieve the best outcome for your future.

To make an enquiry, please fill out the form below, or contact us on (02) 4626 5077.




Brett McGrath

Brett McGrath


Brett McGrath is the Partner in charge of our Family Dispute Resolution department and specialises in family law. As a highly-regarded mediator and dispute resolutionist, Brett assists parties to navigate their way towards resolving their parenting a...
Nevine Youssef

Nevine Youssef


FDRP & Accredited Specialist - Family Law

Nevine has been a member of the Marsdens team since 1996. Nevine is the Partner in charge of the Family Law team.Nevine is an expert in Family Law and is accredited by The Law Society of NSW as a Family Law Accredited Specialist. Nevine specialises i...