Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Family Dispute Resolution
In Family Dispute Resolution sessions, ACCESS ADVOCACY provides a safe environment for separated or divorced couples to discuss what is in their children's best interests as well as, if appropriate, property and asset settlement.

After a client contacts ACCESS ADVOCACY and indicates that they wish to discuss family/children matters, an intake session is arranged to gather background information. The mediator will then invite the other party to participate. If that party agrees, an intake session is arranged and an assessment made regarding whether mediation is appropriate. If mediation proceeds, arrangements, time and date to suit all parties, will be scheduled.

If the party declines to participate, a S60i Certificate may be issued.

Why do I have to attempt mediation (Family Dispute Resolution) first?
In accordance with Part VII Section 60Iof the Family Law Act 1975,from 1 July 2007, it is necessary for parties to receive a certificate from a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (mediator) in order to commence with applications for parenting orders at the Family Court. Certificates can only be filed within 12 months of the last mediation session or attempted mediation, as the issues in dispute may have changed after this time.

There are certain circumstances where certificates are not required - such as urgency, domestic violence or child abuse (for detailed information regarding these exceptions, visit the Attorney General’s site at

Mediators will assess the parties in dispute. If the mediator assesses that mediation will not be appropriate, then this will also be indicated in the certificate. If a party does not make a genuine effort or attend mediation, the court may take this into account and could order them back to mediation. The party who refused to attend may be ordered to pay a portion of the other party’s legal costs.

However, the purpose of the certificate is clear, i.e. to encourage couples to sort out their differences over children’s matters and property/asset division in the best interests of the children without automatically going to court. In mediation, clients make all the decisions with the mediator acting as a third party to assist them in their discussions and to make appropriate decisions. While all decisions and parent agreements are made in good faith and not legally binding, parties may wish to go further, after signing and dating their agreements, and have them made into Consent Orders through the Family Court Registrar. Consent Orders are legally binding on both parties.