Family Dispute Resolution is ...

Family Dispute Resolution is a collaborative negotiation process facilitated by a post graduate trained family dispute resolution practitioner designed to help people reach agreement about parenting and property settlements after separation.

Interact Online provides our services fully online to make sure that we don’t have waiting lists, that our services are safe even if there has been family violence in the past and that you can get started as soon as you are ready. 

Before Mediation you must participate in a pre-mediation session.

Stage One – Identifying the issues

1. Mediators Opening Statements – reminding you that it is a confidential process that can’t be used as evidence in court. They will remind you of the process and ground rules that will ensure that you both feel safe and treat each other respectfully in the way you speak and in considering each other’s points of view.

2. Parties Opening Statements – the mediators will assist each of you in turn to identify the issues you want to resolve during the session.

3. Agenda for the mediation – based on what each of you has identified as being important to resolve the mediators will establish an agenda for the mediation session to guide the resolution process.

Stage Two – Understanding the issues and options

4.  Exploration of the issues – you will now speak directly with each other to ensure that you have a common understanding of the issues and their impact on each of you. The mediators will facilitate the discussion and help make sure that you don’t fall into negative conversational patterns from past unconstructive attempts to resolve the dispute. No debating or arguing about each other’s point of view!

5. Brainstorming options for resolution – once you both understand the issues from each other’s perspectives the mediators will guide you towards starting to look at ways to resolve them.  This part of the mediation is part brainstorming session, part problem-solving.  It is not the same as what you might have done in the past to try and force each other to agree to your ideas for what needs to happen.  If you have properly engaged in the exploration phase you should have new ideas for a resolution that will be more acceptable to both of you.  The FDR Practitioner will make sure that you talk about the impact of the proposals on your children.

6. Private Sessions – this is the individual and confidential check-in session. It may have happened earlier if someone is a bit stuck in old thinking or requests a break or check-in but will definitely happen before the negotiation begins to lock down agreed actions so that you have a chance to stop and reflect on what has happened so far.

Stage Three – Agreements and future actions

7. Negotiation – negotiation is the process of making and considering proposals for future courses of action. If the mediation is productive each issue that you have identified as being important to resolve will have some sort of resolution negotiated.  The mediators will help you to look at the proposals from various perspectives so that you consider the short and long term potential consequences as well as any other people who will be impacted by what is proposed.

8. Agreement – reaching an agreement in Family Dispute Resolution mediation is voluntary.  That is a good thing because if you only need to agree if you actually agree it is more likely that you will both actually try to do what you have said you will do.  The mediators will help you to document the agreement you reach in language that makes sense to you.

In the case of parenting agreements, you can sign the agreement once you are ready and then it becomes a Parenting Plan.  We’ll provide you with information about what that means before the mediation session.

In the case of property settlement agreements the agreement doesn’t become legally enforceable just because you sign it.  You need to either apply for Consent Orders or get a binding financial agreement drawn up. Both processes usually involve the assistance of lawyers so we’ll talk about what is needed if you do reach a suitable property settlement agreement.

9. Closing the session – At the end of the time scheduled for the mediation, the mediator will close the session, talk with you about how they will get any documented agreement to you and ask if you want to book in for any further mediation or review sessions.  It is then up to you to take the next steps to resolve the dispute by doing what you have said you will do.

FDR Parenting Process

The FDR Parenting process steps. Breaks or private sessions with each of you can occur at any time.

FDR Property Process

The FDR Property process steps. Breaks or private sessions with each of you can occur at any time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

We have hardship rates available for people who are on a very low fixed income.  If you are on a low income and feel that you can’t afford to pay full fee for our services contact us to request hardship considerations.

Family Dispute Resolution is a voluntary process but there is an expectation set by the family court that people attempt to resolve their issues before applying to the court for a judgement.

That creates a bit of an unusual situation where you can refuse to participate but it isn’t a good idea.  If you have concerns about safety or your ability to negotiate freely talk to your mediator. It is their job to make sure that the process is safe and fair. 

If Family Dispute Resolution about a child doesn’t proceed the Family Dispute Resolution practitioner will issue a section 60i Certificate. The type of certificate will vary based on the situation.


Family Dis…

by Joanne Law time to read: 4 min
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