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What is a Family Dispute Resolution Conference?

A Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conference is a type of mediation that can assist with resolving issues surrounding parenting disputes. The conference is an opportunity for parties involved in conflict relating to children to settle the dispute, with the intention of avoiding going to Court. Government funded agencies can provide services for FDR Conferences, however, there are long waiting periods. You can chose to complete an FDR Conference on a private basis saving you time. The common issues discussed are children’s welfare and development, the time children spend with each parent, their communication with each parent and other specific issues relating to the children.

A conference of this nature provides a supportive and less stressful and anxious environment than a Court to listen and discuss your concerns and together try to develop workable solutions for all parties involved.

How can a Family Dispute Resolution Conference assist me?

During an FDR Conference, a qualified mediator assists both parties to have an opportunity to express their point of view and are free to talk about their issues and concerns. Parties can be in separate rooms or come together for open discussions. FDR Conferences assist parents by allowing them to decide what is in the children’s best interests. FDR Conferences can provide you with referrals to specialist services and assist you to reach parenting agreements.

The parties must reach an agreement between themselves in order for an agreement to be reached. Sometimes parties don’t agree on all matters in dispute, but can agree on some. Parenting plans can be drafted providing parties a guide and path for future directions regarding care arrangements.

Prior to attending a FDR Conference, the parties should obtain their own independent legal advice from a Family Lawyer. It is important to do this so that you can obtain a detailed specific proposal tailored for you and your children’s individual circumstances. It is always important to be prepared when attending a conference and for you to have a clear path regarding your desired result. A solicitor can provide you with advice on your situation and offer suggestions in respect of an amicable proposal.

What is the process?

The Family Law Act requires both parties to attempt Family Dispute Resolution prior to initiating court proceedings. However, there are exceptions to this requirement, which include:

  1. Cases involving the presence of family violence or abuse or risk of family violence or abuse;
  2. Cases where an existing parenting order has been breached; or
  3. Cases where the application is urgent.

If you are seeking to initiate proceedings in court for a parenting order, or rely on one of these exceptions you should obtain legal advice.

A certificate known as a Section 60I Certificate to confirm both parties attended at Family Dispute Resolution is provided by a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner. This certificate contains information that both parties have attempted mediation, but were unsuccessful in reaching a resolution. The certificate will still be provided if:

  1. One of the parties fails to turn up;
  2. The practitioner considered that it would not be appropriate to conduct the proposed Family Dispute Resolution (This often occurs in cases of domestic violence);
  3. Both parties have attended and both parties made a genuine attempts to resolve the issues;
  4. Both parties attended and one party did not make a genuine effort to resolve the issues; or
  5. The parties began dispute resolution but the practitioner did not consider it would be appropriate to continue the dispute resolution.


What are the outcomes of a Family Dispute Resolution Conference?

If an agreement is reached at a conference then solicitors can prepare an agreement, order or parenting plan which can be filed at the Court. The parties can attend a Review Conference at a later stage to allow the parties to ‘trial’ the agreement and make changes which may be needed. If an agreement is not reached the mediator will issue both parties a Section 60I Certificate and the parties can decide to initiate Court proceedings.

How we can help you

 At Georgiadis Lawyers we can assist you to work out a tailor made proposal that fit your circumstances and provide a solution that covers all matters you may not have considered previously. We can provide a detailed specific proposal for you and your children’s needs securing a better chance of a successful outcome.

Participating in Mediation or a FDR Conference are often methods that parties can facilitate to achieve a desired result.  If you believe this may be a method for you, contact our Family Law team on 08 8210 5400 who can direct you through the process.

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