If you have a family law dispute that you need to resolve, then you may be scared about the prospect of going to court. The good news is that, depending on your matter, you may be able to avoid this stressful process entirely.
What is family dispute resolution?
The First Step for Most Family Law Disputes
The Family Law Act 1975 requires that unless there are circumstances of urgency, or it is not appropriate for family dispute resolution to take place (e.g., because of domestic or family violence) parents must attempt to resolve their family law issues with a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner before they can commence court proceedings.
A Peaceful, Fair Agreement
The family dispute resolution process involves a mediator, known as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, whose aim is to assist you and your ex-partner to resolve some or all your disputes with each other.
The role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is to support both parties and enable them to communicate respectfully and productively about what is important for them in a transparent but confidential forum.
A Potential Solution to Parenting Matters
If you’re looking to resolve a parenting matter with your partner, you’ll learn very quickly from talking to anyone who works in family law that participating (or at least attempting to participate) in Family Dispute Resolution is compulsory before you commence court proceedings.
What happens in family dispute resolution?
1) Where Possible, We Bring Everyone Together
Unless someone expresses a desire to be in separate rooms, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners often try to facilitate a discussion with both parties in the same room.
If it isn’t appropriate you to be in the same room as your ex-partner, you can request that family dispute resolution be by way of ‘shuttle mediation’. This involves you and your partner sitting in different rooms, and the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner moving between them.
In all circumstances, the meeting will be led by the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, who will act as an independent third party.
2) We Explain the Process, and Identify Objectives
The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will start the meeting by explaining the process of the session, ensuring that each party clearly understands what is expected, along with the potential outcomes of the mediation.
They will then help to identify the issues that need to be resolved and encourage each party to listen to the other’s point of view.
3) The Practitioner Will Work Toward a Solution
Throughout the session, the main role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is to keep each person on track and facilitate productive discussion, in an effort to reach a compromise the meets the objectives of each parent, in a child focused manner.. Ideally at the end of your session, you will have agreed on the arrangements for the children, which can later be documented by way of a Parenting Plan or Consent Order. You should always obtain legal advice prior to signing any formal document such as a Parenting Plan or a Consent Order, to make sure that you understand the effect and enforceability.
Family Dispute Resolution FAQs
Where there is a situation of urgency, where there is family violence child abuse or any substantive risk of harm to a child, those parties are exempt from first attending family dispute resolution and can make an application directly to the Court. We can provide you with advice in relation to whether your circumstances fall within one of the categories of exemption.
The Queensland Government operates a limited number of family dispute resolution centres throughout Queensland that are free – however, wait times tend to be greater.
There are also several private dispute resolution practitioners who charge higher fees for their services but are experts in their field. They’re also more often able to accommodate family dispute resolution sooner.
We are strategic and results based and understand our client’s needs during challenging times.