Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between people in conflict, facilitated by a neutral person, the mediator.
Separated families are usually encouraged to use family mediation to help resolve their disputes about children.
Family Dispute Resolution
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a particular type of mediation for helping separating families to come to agreement. A Family Dispute Resolution can convene an FDRC (Family Dispute Resolution Conference). During an FDR, issues in dispute will be discussed and there is a consideration for different options, while being encouraged to focus on the needs of their children.
The FDR process is convened by an accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioner.
Families are usually encouraged to attend an FDRC but there may be situations in which it is not considered the most appropriate process. Some of those considerations include:
- where family violence or child abuse is a factor
- when you are responding to an application to court
- urgent issues
- a person is unable to participate effectively (for example, due to incapacity or geographical location), or
- a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
Family Dispute Resolution practitioners
An FDR Practitioner can be help with families who have not reached agreement on arrangements for a child or children after separation.
Ms Claire Naidu is an FDR practitioner. If you have a family related dispute, she can assist you as an independent person trained in mediation and negotiation and specialising in family disputes.
FDR Practitioners are neutral and they do not take sides, but they may encourage you to consider different perspectives and options that have been generated through the process. They will facilitate the process by encouraging people to talk about the particular issues in dispute.
They are trained in working in a family law environment and in responding to domestic and family violence. They are also trained in creating a supportive environment, particularly for the safety of vulnerable people. A safe environments provided to allow people to openly discuss and clarify issues as well as allow them to feel safe to disagree.
If you have particular needs or concerns, you should raise this during the intake process.
An FDR practitioner is accredited under the standards set out in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008.
A common question people ask is “How long will the mediation process take?” There is no simple answer to this question. It can take a few hours, or can be over a few days. It depends on the number and complexity of issues being discussed.
At Claire Naidu & Co, we usually run mediations on the same day and usually for about three hours. Depending on your matter, this can vary.
Some families have complex issues to deal with that can make mediation difficult and take a long time. When each family member makes their child’s interests the priority, workable parenting agreements can be reached sooner.
In our experience, the wait time between first engaging us and having your first mediation, is much quicker than a government or community based family dispute resolution conference.
We can provide FDR services at our offices, off-site and also by telephone and video (such as zoom).
An FDR session doesn’t have to be face-to-face or in the same room as the other person. When you are not in the same room - this is called shuttle mediation.
Everything you say in front of an FDR practitioner is confidential. There are some exceptions, such as to prevent a threat to someone's life or health or the commission of a crime or child abuse or anything that indicates a risk of child abuse.
Counselling and Family Dispute Resolution
FDR is not counselling.
You may find it helpful to see a counsellor before going to FDR and/or after the FDR.
When FDR is not progressing, the FDR practitioner may suggest other options, such as family counselling.
Children and Family Dispute Resolution
Sometimes, a mediator will include children in the mediation if they are of an age or maturity that is suitable to the proceedings.
Other models of mediation can be ‘child-inclusive’, with a child consultant that talks with the children and provides the child’s views back to the parents during the mediation.
Starting Family Dispute Resolution
When we are engaged as an FDR practitioner, we will invite the other person(s) to an intake session. If the other person does not engage or attend, the ADR practitioner may need to issue a certificate so that the first person can make an application to a family law court.
The FDR practitioner will assess if FDR is suitable for the family situation. This includes considering issues such as family violence, safety, equality of bargaining power, risks to children, the emotional and psychological health of participants and any other issues that they think may make FDR unsuitable.
What happens in Family Dispute Resolution?
The FDR practitioner will help to identify the issues that need to be resolved and encourage each party to listen to the other’s point of view.
The FDR practitioner will try to keep each person on track and focussed on the children. Ideas and options will be shared with the aim of coming up with workable solutions that are in the best interests of the children.
Sometimes it is not suitable to have each person in the same room so the FDR practitioner may arrange to go back and forth from different rooms. This is called ‘shuttle mediation’. Sometimes it is necessary for the mediator to talk individually with each party to help move issues along or to discuss options for negotiation.
After Family Dispute Resolution
Once an agreement is reached it may be recorded as a parenting plan or terms could be noted in preparation for consent orders. If it is a parenting plan, then it needs to be in writing, dated and signed by both parents/parties.
An agreement reached could also include processes to change arrangements and resolve disagreements. Parenting plans can be renegotiated over time if agreed by the parties.
Sometimes agreement may not be reached at the time of the mediation. Even if this happens, the parties can still reach agreement through a different process after the FDRC. It could be that the parties reach their own agreement or they may be assisted by others.
Family Dispute Resolution certificates - section 60I certificates
An Accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioner can issue a certificate to allow an application to be made to a family law court. The certificate is called a ‘Section 60I certificate’ and can only be issued by an accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioner.
A Section 60I certificate can also be issued if FDR is not appropriate for the particular situation or it may be that the conference has been conducted and the certificate is prepared after the conference. If a matter is deemed not suitable for mediation, there are a variety of reasons including but not limited to concerns about family violence, the safety of the parties and risks to children, the ability for each party to be able to negotiate, or other issues the FDR practitioner feels are relevant.
The Section 60I certificate will say one of the following things:
- the other party did not attend
- you and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- you and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- the FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
- the FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.
Note: 'Party' means the other person or persons involved in the parenting dispute.
Are you interested in having a Family Dispute Resolution Conference (FDRC)?
If you are interested in having an FDRC or finding out whether your matter is suitable for a family dispute resolution conference, contact us. Click here for our contact details - Claire Naidu & Co.
If a dispute can be resolved through mediation and early in the process, it will likely be significantly less expensive than having to go to court. However, you should obtain your own independent legal advice. Where Claire Naidu & Co are engaged as mediators in your matter, they are not able to also provide you with legal advice. Click here for information about costs.
Ready to go ahead with a Family Dispute Resolution Conference (FDRC)?
Contact us for your initial assessment. Click here for our contact details - Claire Naidu & Co.