What Is Family Mediation?

Family Dispute Resolution is the terminology used to describe mediation in the Family Law Act where there are disputes about parenting issues.

The Family Law Act defines Family Dispute resolution as  “… a process (other than a judicial process) in which a family dispute resolution practitioner helps people affected, or likely to be affected, by separation or divorce to resolve some or all of their disputes with each other; and  (b)  in which the practitioner is independent of all of the parties involved in the process.”  (Family Law Act 1975 S.10G)

Why is family mediation important?

The Federal Government Introduced “Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution” into the Family Law Act in July 2007.

What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?

It is a way of resolving issues without having a dispute in Court.  The legislation requires (in most cases with notable exceptions being in cases of child abuse and/or domestic violence) that FDR be attempted before a matter can go to Court.

If the issues are not resolved in an FDR process then a registered Family Dispute Resolution practitioner can issue a certificate (under Section 60I of the Family Law Act) which then allows an application to be filed in Court.  A registered Family Dispute Resolution practitioner is a mediator who fulfils the requirements of the Attorney Generals Department and is authorised to conduct mediations in family law matters.

Is the process confidential?

The Family Law Act ensures that what is said and takes place at family dispute resolution remains confidential.

The Act provides confidentiality except in certain cases such with the consent of the parties involved, or

  • Preventing or lessening a  serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a person.
  • Reporting the commission, or preventing the likely commission, of an offence involving violence or a threat of violence to a person.
  • Preventing or lessening a serious and imminent threat to the property of a person; or reporting the commission, or preventing the likely commission, of an offence involving  intentional damage to property of a person or a threat of damage to property.

The parties to family dispute resolution can therefore be assured that what is said and done remains confidential, resulting in full, frank and meaningful discussions, which assist in leading the parties to resolution of the issues in dispute.