OUR EXPERTISE AND APPROACH
Hidden First Field
Family Dispute Resolution
Relationships between separated couples are not improved by litigation. Statements are often made in letters between solicitors and in affidavits which are hurtful and can’t be unsaid. People are frequently left feeling angry, attacked and defensive. Couples with children are likely to find it more difficult to learn to parent together after separation.
Parents must attend mediation (known as family dispute resolution) before they can go to court over disagreements about their children. This process assists parents to learn to resolve their disputes outside court and in a more amicable way. There are some exceptions, such as if there is an urgent issue, there is abuse or risk of abuse to a child, family violence or a risk of family violence.
Family dispute resolution is conducted by Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (known as “FDRPs”) who are qualified mediators with additional training to mediate family disputes. FDRPs work in a variety of settings including Government funded Family Relationship Centres (FRCs), and counselling agencies like Relationships Australia, Lifeworks and Family Life. There are also private lawyers and psychologists.
The aim of mediation is to help parents focus on the future rather than on the past. Parents are encouraged to work together for the best interests of their children in an attempt to take the focus away from the hurt and hostility of the separation. The goal is to help the parties move from a relationship of conflict to a co-operative relationship as parents. The mediator helps the parents reach an agreement which is acceptable to both of them and realistic for their children.
The family dispute resolution process normally involves a 1 hour intake interview with each parent about their concerns and to assessment whether mediation is appropriate. Mediation may not be appropriate in cases where one party’s ability to negotiate freely is affected by family violence or unequal bargaining power. If appropriate, the parents will attend a mediation session of about 1½ to 3 hours.