During the initial meeting with a client going through separation, we always discuss various methods of how to resolve family law matters. One popular method of resolution is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) - which is also loosely referred to as Mediation.

We often refer clients in the early stages of their property and/or parenting matters (or both) to Relationships Australia for the purpose of them entering the FDR process.

How does Family Dispute Resolution work?

The FDR process is usually commenced by one of the parties contacting a mediation centre, i.e. Relationships Australia and arranging to commence the process. The mediation centre would usually then invite the other party to be a part of the process.

Each party will have an intake interview. This is to assess whether or not the parties are suitable for FDR.

Once approved by the FDR practitioner (i.e. the Mediator) the parties will then be invited to a joint session. The FDR practitioner will then assist the parties to identify the issues in dispute, and work at resolving the matter. If you are not comfortable being in the same room as your former partner, then the FDR can be done by way of a shuttle conference where you are in separate rooms.

The FDR process does not include the lawyers for each partner.  However, some lawyers in Victoria are trained as FDR Practitioners, and are also available to conduct FDR Sessions.  Tonkin Legal's St. John Heath is a Registered FDR Practitioner (as well as being recognised by the Law Institute of Victoria as an Accredited Family Law Specialist).

An FDR practitioner who is trained in Family Law matters will assist you to try and come to an agreement regarding property matters and/or parenting matters. While sometimes this can be achieved in the first joint session, some clients have been required to attend on a number of occasions before agreement can be reached.

Once agreement is reached regarding your property and/or parenting matters (or both) the parties then return to their respective solicitors to have the Agreement formalised.

What are the benefits of FDR?

  • No lawyers involved - until an agreement is reached or if you require legal advice along the FDR process.
  • The fees for the process are usually a lot less than lawyer’s fees.
  • You and your former partner maintain control over your dispute rather than having a Judge of the Family Court decide your matter.
  • Depending on the waiting list, FDR can be arranged fairly quickly.
  • In certain circumstances, FDR can also include children. While the children wouldn’t be involved directly in the Mediation, the FDR practitioner may wish to meet with them independently to enable them to have a voice in the process. Child inclusive FDR would usually require the children to be above the age of 12.
  • There are various Relationship Centres and/or FDR Centres that can assist you throughout Melbourne and regional areas.
  • FDR is mandatory if you wish to proceed to Court on parenting matters (unless there is urgency, or the presence of family violence).

If you would like to know more about this process or talk to us about how we can help you negotiate separation from your partner, then please give us a call on (03) 94359044 to book an appointment.