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What is Dispute Resolution and what does it have to do with Family Law matters?
Dispute resolution is a process by which parties can resolve disputes without attending court. Because Family Law matters are often highly emotive, the parties involved can often be assisted through Family Dispute Resolution (or mediation) to work through the issues and reach an agreement. This is often through mediation, which is a negotiation process that is structured and guided by an independent person (the mediator) who guides both parties in identifying the issues, generating options, and assisting in resolving disputes by reaching agreements that specifically address the issues.
What are the benefits of Family Dispute Resolution (or mediation)?
The benefits of Family Dispute Resolution are that it is affordable (in the vicinity of $1,300 per party), especially when compared to the costs of litigation, which can cost $50,000 or more per party in a highly contested matter. In this way, mediation can be of great benefit to a couple who has just gone through the extremely expensive process of separation and now need to bear the costs of maintaining two separate residences and are now awaiting the sale of property or finalisation of property settlement. A further benefit of Family Dispute Resolution is that it is a faster process to resolve the dispute and finalise an agreement between the parties. The Family Court process is a slow one (with the exception of urgent applications where there are further pressing concerns), and by the time the Family Court documents are prepared and a date is listed, several months can go by even before the initial hearing date - the parties have very little (if any) say as to these timeframes. Mediation, on the other hand, can be scheduled at a time convenient to both parties as soon as both parties have prepared any documentation that the mediator requires.
Finally, the greatest benefit of Family Dispute Resolution is the control that you as parties have over the entire process. At the Family Court, a judge will listen to both sides of the case (and possibly the input of an Independent Children’s Lawyer or Family Report Writer where children are involved), and then the judge will make a decision and orders will be made. Family Dispute Resolution allows the you and your ex-partner to make the decisions with the assistance and guidance of the mediator to reach agreements. The agreements made in Family Dispute Resolution are more likely to be a compromise between you and your ex-partner, with no one party “winning” or “losing”, but rather reaching a workable agreement.
Do I have to participate in Family Dispute Resolution?
Family Dispute Resolution can assist parties to maintain family relationships where children are involved and the parents will need to effectively co-parent for many years to come. Before deciding whether you need to participate in mediation, you should seek independent legal advice as to the best process to resolve your dispute.
It is important to engage a mediator who is registered as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with the Federal Attorney-General's Department pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). We are registered as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners with the Federal Attorney-General's Department.
Even if you do not believe that mediation will assist you in resolving your dispute, before you can apply to the Family Court for certain orders, there is a requirement to make a genuine attempt to resolve the disputes through Family Dispute Resolution, and a Section 60I certificate is to be provided as evidence of this. There are some exceptions to this requirement which will be outlined below.
What is a Section 60I certificate?
A Section 60I certificate is a certificate of attendance required by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) that is issued by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. We are authorised by the Federal Attorney-General’s Department to issue Section 60I certificates. These certificates can be issued where:
When is a Section 60I certificate not required?
A Section 60I certificate is not required if you are seeking the following:
When am I not required to attend Family Dispute Resolution?
You are not required to attend Family Dispute Resolution if:
Further, if there are reasonable grounds to ascertain that family violence or child abuse has occurred or is a risk that it will occur, then you may not be required to attend mediation (click here for further information on Family Violence and Family Dispute Resolution). It is important to seek legal advice in these circumstances.
What happens if my ex-partner and I reach an agreement?
If you reach an agreement through mediation, then you have two options:
We write all agreements at mediation in the legal format of Draft Consent Orders, so that you can file these with the Family Court and make the agreements legally enforceable (click here for further information on these processes).
To start the mediation process, simply complete the form:
More Information on Mediation & Family Dispute Resolution
- Family Dispute Resolution
- Parenting Plans
- Financial Agreements
- Child-Inclusive Mediation
- Section 60I Certificates
- Child Support
- Child Support Calculator
- De Facto Relationships & Separation
- Divorce & Mediation
- Grandparents & Mediation for Grandchildren
- Parenting Plan & Draft Consent Orders for Children
- Property Settlement at Mediation
- Mediation & Domestic Violence
- Relocation & Overseas Travel with a Child
- Going to the Family Court versus Mediation
- Family Dispute Resolution & Mediation
- Child Support & Mediation
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website is for general guidance only. No person should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information. Professional legal advice should be sought based upon your particular circumstances, because laws and regulations undergo frequent changes.