FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When parents are in dispute regarding arrangements for their Children the Family Law Court requires them to first make a genuine effort to resolve the issues in Mediation or FDR (Family Dispute Resolution) before proceeding to Court.
Family Dispute Resolution is a much more practical way of resolving disputes between separating couples. Mediation (FDR) costs just a fraction of what it would to take the matter to trial and is far less stressful for you and your ex-partner but most importantly for the Children. Your fully qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Perth Family Dispute Resolution will facilitate a discussion regarding your specific dispute and with you to look at a variety of options on how you and your ex-partner can best reach an agreement.
FDR (Family Dispute Resolution) is the legal term for services (Formerly known as Family Mediation) that help couples affected by separation and divorce to sort out family disputes. FDR can help you to agree on a range of issues relating to property (Property Agreement), money (Financial Settlement), and most importantly about your children (via a Parenting Agreement).
Only accredited FDR practitioners such as the mediators at Perth Family Dispute Resolution can issue S60I certificates under the Family Law Act 1975. An accredited FDR practitioner is a person who meets standards contained in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 and is a registered FDRP with the Attorney Generals department.
Yes, FDR (or Family Mediation) is compulsory when you apply to the Family Law Court for a Parenting Order. You must first obtain a S60I Certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner which states that you have made a “genuine effort” to resolve your dispute through Mediation. The requirement to participate in FDR applies to both new applications, and applications seeking changes to an existing Parenting Order.
There are some exceptions to this requirement where:
- There has been, or there is a risk of, family violence or child abuse
- A party is unable to participate effectively (e.g. due to incapacity or geographical location), or
- A person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
- There is no requirement to undertake FDR if there has been family violence or child abuse.
These issues will be assessed during your initial pre-intake and assessment interview with your fully qualified Practitioner at Perth Family Dispute Resolution.
The people having the disagreement (generally the parents) need to be involved in the FDR process. If the other party doesn’t object, a support person or other family member may be able to attend FDR with you. Perth Family Dispute Resolution is happy to work with other professionals such as Lawyers and include them in the process.
Generally not personally, however Perth Family Dispute Resolution acting as Child Advocates will help to focus and facilitate any agreements to be in the Childs best interests in line the Family Law Act.
Before you start FDR, Perth Family Dispute Resolution will tell you about the FDR process, your rights (including your right to complain about our service), his or her qualifications, and the fees charged. If you are trying to resolve a disagreement about your Children, Perth Family Dispute Resolution will also give you information about Parenting Plans and other services available to help you.
Before FDR can commence, Perth Family Dispute Resolution must first make assessment to see whether Mediation is suitable in your personal situation.
FDR practitioners at Perth Family Dispute Resolution are impartial and will not take sides. We will help you to explore family issues in an objective and positive way. Unlike counselling, FDR does not focus on the emotional side of relationships. It concentrates on resolving specific disputes.
FDR can help both of you to discuss issues, look at options, and work out how best to reach agreement. Importantly, you can use FDR to develop a Parenting Plan to set out arrangements for your children or a Property Agreement that sets out how you would like to split assets. Mediators at Perth Family Dispute Resolution will also check that everyone understands what is being said and agreed upon.
Everything you say to your Perth Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner in Mediation is confidential. There are however exceptions in certain circumstances, such as to prevent a threat to someone's life or health or the commission of a serious crime.
What is said during Mediation cannot be used as evidence in court. However all Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners including the Practitioners at Perth Family Dispute Resolution are mandatory reporters and are therefore required by Law to report child abuse or anything that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, and this may be used as evidence in some circumstances.
It is important that you feel safe, and are safe before, during and after FDR.
If you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of your Children you should tell your Mediator at Perth Family Dispute Resolution as soon as possible. This may mean that FDR must stop or does not proceed. However, if the parties agree Mediation may proceed in the form of “Shuttle Mediation”, meaning the participants are in separate rooms.
If you reach agreement on arrangements for your children, this agreement can be recorded as a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents. Your agreement or Parenting Plan can include mechanisms to change arrangements and resolve disagreements that may happen in the future. Parenting Plans can be reviewed and renegotiated at any time.
Be aware than any changes to the care arrangements for your children can affect child support, income support and family assistance payments. There are special rules about including child support in your Parenting Plan. For example, if your parenting plan specifies amounts for child support, the Child Support Agency (CSA) can enforce your agreement if it is also a valid support agreement, and you or the other parent have asked CSA to accept it.
If your agreement relates to your finances and Property, Perth Family Dispute Resolution can encompass this agreement in a Financial Agreement.
If you want to make your final Parenting Plan or Financial Agreement legally binding, you can apply to the court to have your agreement made into a Consent Order. You can do this yourself or ask your lawyer to do it for you.
Even if you can't reach agreement, FDR may help you and your former spouse or partner communicate better. If you try FDR but still need to go to court because of a parenting order, you will need a certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner.
The certificate will say one of the following:
- The other party did not attend
- You and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- You and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- The FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
- The FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.
- You should be aware that if you do not attend FDR or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your court hearing. The court may also order you to pay the other party's legal costs.
Does it matter who initiates FDR?
No, it does not matter whether you or your former partner initiated Mediation. All Mediators at Perth Family Dispute Resolution are neutral and impartial and will not take either side. We will not judge you or your choices, we are here to support you through the mediation process and facilitate a resolution of your dispute.