Family Dispute Resolution conferences

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

What is it & Why is it Important?

The term Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conference is another name for mediation. Both the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia have the power to order these types of conferences in order to encourage parties to negotiate a resolution outside of the court room. FDR’s  are both quicker and more cost effective than having your matter dealt with in the court system.

FDR Before Commencing Court Action

Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) imposes an obligation on parties to make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute by family dispute resolution before an application can be made to the court. The legislation stipulates that a court must not hear an application unless the applicant files in the court a section 60I certificate acknowledging that they have made a genuine effort to resolve their dispute through family dispute resolution

What if the other party does not attend the mediation or we cannot reach agreement?

The legislation acknowledges that mediation is not always going to be successful however this does not displace the requirement to attempt to resolve the dispute through family dispute resolution prior to commencing court action. The certificate is awarded regardless of whether the other party chooses to participate in the process or whether or not agreement is reached.

The section 60I certificate is an acknowledgment that you made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through family dispute resolution, regardless of the outcome.

What if there is an Intervention order in place?

There will invariably be certain circumstances where family dispute resolution will be unsuitable. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) states that the requirement to attend family dispute resolution prior to commencing court action does not apply if the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

  • There has been abuse of the child by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
  • There would be a risk of abuse of the child if there were to be a delay in applying for an order of the court; or
  • There has been family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
  • There is a risk of family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings.

What are the benefits of attending a Family Dispute Resolution Conference

Perhaps the biggest incentive to attempt to resolve your dispute through family dispute resolution is the fact that this process enables you to retain greater control and management over the process and outcome of your Family Law matter. Once you commence court action you are constrained by the court procedures and lose some of that control over the outcome, noting that if you are unable to reach agreement with the other parent over these issues and it proceeds to trial, the decision is then in the Judge’s hands.

tony
tony@adelaidefamilylawyers.com.au