Family Dispute Resolution
What is Family Dispute Resolution?


Family Dispute Resolution is a process by which a neutral third party called a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner helps people in conflictnegotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. The parties to the mediation control the outcome.

A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner facilitates communication, promotes understanding, assists the parties to identify their needs and interests, and uses creative problem solving techniques to enable the parties to reach their own agreement. Unlike court or arbitration, no one imposes a solution on a party. If all of the parties do not agree to the result, the dispute remains unresolved.

Family Dispute Resolution gives parties much more control over the way their dispute or difference is dealt with and over the outcome. If negotiations are unsuccessful, family dispute resolution provides an alternative to pursuing litigation or other more formal processes. The scope for solutions is usually greater than the remedies available in courts and tribunals, or even in prolonged negotiation.

Advantages of Family Dispute Resolution

Mediation costs considerably less than litigation.

The mediation process can usually settle a dispute within a few sessions. Most mediation’s conclude or settle within thirty days from initiating the process.

Mediation statistically settles over 85% of initiated disputes.

The process of Mediation is flexible and informal. It is not necessary to have a lawyer represent you during the mediation process. However, some individuals feel more comfortable with legal representation.

Disputing parties are directly engaged in the negotiation of their settlement. Parties also enhance the likelihood of continuing their relationships by utilising mediation.

Information disclosed during mediation may not be divulged as evidence in any trial or judicial proceeding, except so far as required by law or with the consent of the parties.


Attending mediation before applying for parenting orders

There is a requirement that the parties attend mediation prior to applying for parenting orders, unless an exemption applies.

If a parent refuses to attend mediation, or both parents attend mediation and no agreement about parenting arrangements for your children are able to be reached, the family dispute resolution practitioner will issue a certificate in accordance with section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which allows the parents to initiate court proceedings seeking parenting orders from the court.

The section 60I certificate is valid for 12 months and after this date if proceedings are not initiated in court, the parties will need to re-engage in further family dispute resolution.


Exemption to attend mediation

Under Section 60(9) of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), you can seek an exemption from providing a certificate in the following circumstances:

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  • If your matter is urgent
  • If the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
  • There has been child abuse and/or family violence by a party
  • There is a risk of family violence by a party; and/or
  • There is a risk of child abuse if there were to be a delay in applying to the court
  • Where a party is unable to participate effectively in family dispute resolution (for example, due to incapacity to do so or physical remoteness from a family dispute resolution provider)
  • If your application relates to an alleged contravention of an existing order that was made within the last 12 months; and
  • There are reasonable grounds to believe that the person who has allegedly contravened the order has behaved in a way that shows a serious disregard for his or her obligations under that order.
If you are seeking to apply for an exemption for any of the reasons above in the Family Court, you must either:
  • Prepare and file an affidavit – non-filing of family dispute resolution certificate; or
  • If you are filing an initiating application, seeking interim orders at the same time, you can include the same information in the affidavit that you must file with this application.
If you are seeking to apply for an exemption for any of the reasons above in the Federal Circuit Court, you must either:
  • Prepare and file an affidavit – non-filing of family dispute resolution certificate; or
  • Include this information in the affidavit filed in support of your application.
When do I need to provide a Section 60I certificate?
If your application is an application for a parenting order, then you must provide a certificate with your application to the court. This requirement applies even if you have pre-existing orders in relation to the child that is the subject of the current application.
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