Should you be intending to commence family court proceedings (especially in child-related disputes), then please expect to participate in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). In an attempt to ease the pressures on the Family Law Courts, individuals and parents are encouraged to have participated in formalised mediation (or FDR) to ensure that they have made every attempt possible to resolve and agree to parenting. The FDR process is considered by many as a successful, practical, and an inexpensive first-step to making arrangements and agreements. By participating (either successfully or not) you will receive a Section 601 Certificate. There are four certificates that will be issued:
There are many places and options to use for FDR. The “private” options include law firms and mediation businesses. However, if cost is a factor, you might like to consider not-for-profit or government organisations such as Interrelate, CatholicCare, Unifam UnitingCare and Relationships Australia.
The process of FDR includes: (please note that each mediator may have a slightly different process, so please use this as a guide)
Since FDR is confidential, the notes, mediators and everything discussed cannot be subpoenaed or will be inadmissible in court. This means that you can’t use any element of the FDR as a part of your evidence and stops individuals for ‘fishing for information’ on the other person. There are small exceptions to the confidentiality clause which include safety concerns and limited information included on the FDR Section 60I Certificate.
So when you attend your FDR, make sure you are genuinely open to the process and try to get the best outcomes in a relaxed, supportive and structured environment. There isn’t anything to lose by trying your best.