About Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Family Mediation

Family dispute resolution (FDR), which is also known as family mediation, is a process that helps separated parents, carers and their families to communicate with each other and reach agreement about issues relating to their separation. This can include parenting arrangements, child support, financial arrangements, and property settlement. 

The Family Law Act defines FDR as “a process in which a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) helps people affected or likely to be affected, by separation or divorce to resolve some or all of their disputes with each other”.

The law requires separating families who have a dispute about children to make a genuine effort to try to come to an agreement through FDR before filing an application for Parenting Orders in court. There are some exceptions to this requirement.

The difference between Conflict and Dispute

Most people probably do not recognise a distinct difference between the terms Conflict and Dispute. Conflict and Dispute are the often-interchangeable terms in divorce and post separation parenting.

Conflicts, unlike Disputes, cannot be easily resolved and resolving them is difficult. In contrast, a Dispute can be resolved through Court or Dispute Resolution.
Conflict is a state of how things are, a Dispute is a process. A Dispute must always have at least one issue at its core, unlike a conflict.

Co-parenting post separation often needs to have Conflict resolved, or at least, well managed, to be liveable for both parents and for the children. Children deserve to have their parents co-parenting to the best of their ability, they deserve nothing less.   

Family Law Case Management - Central Practice Direction

The core principles applicable to family law are that:

(a) reduces unnecessary cost and delay in family litigation and facilitates proceedings being conducted with the least possible acrimony in order to minimise harm to children and families.
(b) ensures the safety of families and children; and
(c) achieves the overarching purpose of the family law practice, being to facilitate the just resolution of disputes according to law and as quickly, inexpensively and efficiently as possible.

And … the prioritisation of both internal and external Dispute Resolution, including private mediation, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), Conciliation Conferences, and arbitration in property disputes, for as many appropriate cases as possible.

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