What is Family Mediation?

The correct term for family mediation is now Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). It is a process which aims at working towards reaching agreement, usually over parenting and property disputes for separating and divorcing couples.

In the event that agreement is unable to take place, then the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) issues a certificate which then allows the couple to approach the Family Court.

Although Family Dispute Resolution is a voluntary process, it is actually compulsory before applying to the Family Court for consent orders regarding the care of children.

"Family Dispute Resolution is an umbrella definition designed specifically for the Australian family law system, that encompasses almost all types and styles of third-party intervention that might be employed to assist parties to reach agreement on their family law issues.

The definition of family dispute resolution at section 10F of the Family Law Act covers both the conciliation and mediation processes. The professionals involved are referred to as family dispute resolution practitioners. Family dispute resolution practitioners must have suitable qualifications, training and experience, and pursue certain practices, in order to be accredited as family dispute resolution practitioners under the Act and Regulations. Practitioners who breach the Regulations may be subject to penalties (section 10K).

A family dispute resolution practitioner must be registered with the Attorney-General's Department to be accredited under the Act. It is strongly advised that you seek out a registered practitioner to provide your family dispute resolution services, even if you don't intend to go to court. Apart from having more confidence about the relevance of the practitioner's experience and the quality of service, the Act provides significant confidentiality protection to the clients of registered practitioners."

Reference: The Family Law Handbook, Maree Livermore, Second Edition, Lawbook Co. 2010: p.67

Before approaching the Family Court, a Section 60I Certificate is required from an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) which states that you have made a genuine effort to resolve your dispute through Family Dispute Resolution.

This requirement applies also to changes to any existing parenting order as well as new parenting plans.

Christine Bennett offers Family Dispute Resolution and Relationship Counselling in Crows Nest, Central Coast NSW and online.