Court proceedings and litigation doesn’t have to be the only way. The alternative is mediation or what is referred to by the Family Law Act as “Family Dispute Resolution” (FDR).
FDR is a process whereby parties can meet with a FDR Practitioner, commonly referred to as a mediator, to discuss their issues and think of options to resolve disputes that may have resulted from their separation. FDR is ideal to discuss parenting arrangements post separation as well as property matters.
Parents or other interested persons in a child’s life cannot go to Court for parenting orders unless a certificate has been issued by an accredited FDR Practitioner to indicate that the parties have attempted FDR. There are exceptional circumstances where the certificate is not required, however, the general rule is mediation is necessary before court proceedings are commenced.
Mediator or FDR is an opportunity to discuss the party’s concerns and the options available to try and reach an agreement without the matter escalating further or requiring a determination by a Judge or Magistrate.
All discussions held during the mediation are confidential and, accordingly, any information exchanged between the parties is not allowed to 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.
The mediation process can be attended either by the parties on their own or the parties with their lawyers, if they have engaged lawyers or if they wish to have the lawyers present with them.
The aim of a mediation is to reach agreement to finalise a dispute, however, even if no agreement is reached, usually the conferences are useful in narrowing the issues in dispute and helping the parties communicate better in the future.
FDR is a cost effective away of dealing with disputes, however it is not appropriate in every case particularly in matters involving family violence. FDR is determined on every matter after speaking to both parties and completing the intake process.
Our partner, Nevine Youssef, is Accredited by the Attorney General’s Department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. Nevine conducts mediation either at any of our 5 offices or alternatively, an organised venue. Nevine strives to provide the best quality and most cost effective FDR service. Nevine brings her knowledge and experience as an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Independent Children’s Lawyer to the table to assist parties to navigate, discuss and resolve their disputes without litigation.
Please contact our office for further information on FDR.