Family dispute resolution information

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution is a mediation process for helping people resolve disputes without going to court. It can be conducted in person or by video.

Your Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is a neutral mediator who encourages you to talk to each other about the issues in dispute in a holistic, not purely legal, way.

She assists you to examine the issues and work towards an agreement and outcome that meets your needs and addresses your concerns.

Why go to family dispute resolution?

Compared with going to court, family dispute resolution is less expensive, quicker, more informal and more personal.

It is voluntary and can improve understanding and communication between the parties who have an ongoing relationship, such as co-parents.

What happens in family dispute resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution is a flexible process that can be adapted to suit your family’s particular needs and circumstances. It is a confidential process that allows parents to identify and explore the issues important to them.

What is a Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner?

Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs)  must meet minimum standards of education including a University or Tertiary qualification, as well as additional training and police checks, to be accepted by the Attorney- General’s Department as a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner. They must also maintain a level of professional education and currency of practice. All our mediators at Untying the Knot are Registered FDRPs and qualified to issue s60I Certificates.

Please note that the Child Expert/Consultant is not a Registered FDRP and is not acting in that role in Child-Focussed or Child-Inclusive Mediation.

FAQ about Family Dispute Resolution

Is family dispute resolution private?

FDR is a confidential process, so far as the law allows. Generally, what is said cannot be used in court and are private. The FDRP has a duty to keep what is said in mediation confidential, however, there are some exceptions. These include situations where the FDRP believes there is a risk of harm to a child or someone else, threats to damage property or to prevent a violent crime. You cannot repeat to a court anything the other parent said during mediation. This ensures everyone can negotiate freely.

Do I have to attend famiy dispute resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution is a voluntary process. However, unless an exception applies, you cannot apply to the court for parenting or property orders unless you have attempted mediation and obtained a ‘section 60I certificate’.   There can be costs consequences if you decline an invitation to FDR or do not make a genuine effort to resolve the matter at mediation.

Who makes the decisions at family dispute resolution?

You and the other party are responsible for all decisions made at Family Dispute Resolution. The FDRP does not make a decision if you cannot agree.

What if I need legal advice?

It is not the role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to give you legal advice.

While some Family Dispute Resolution services do not allow lawyers to be present, we encourage you to obtain legal advice before your mediation and if you want your lawyer to attend, we are happy for them to do so, but we need to know in advance if you are bringing a lawyer and who that is.

What happens if we reach an agreement at family dispute resolution?

We will help prepare an agreement or a parenting plan.   If you have lawyers, they will be involved in drafting this.

What if we don’t reach agreement at family dispute resolution?

If you are unable to reach an agreement on all issues at FDR, a certificate enabling you to commence proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia can be provided to you.

What if I am not happy about my service from Untying the Knot?

It’s important to us that you are happy with the service you receive from  Untying the Knot.

All our Registered FDRPs are required, under their registration, to hold insurance and membership of a professional body to oversee complaints.

In the first instance, please email and we will endeavour to resolve your complaint within 14 days,

If your complaint cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, you can contact Mediation Institute. 

Please note this applies to the mediator, not the Child Expert/Consultant if they are involved in the mediation.  They have a separate complaints handling process which will be provided on request.

What else do I need to know before Family Dispute Resolution?

There are many services to assist you during this time. If you need counselling, are considering reconciling with the other parent, or need assistance as a result of family violence, you can contact the Family Relationship Advice Line (1800 050 321) or for information and referrals to services.

Any party attending FDR should read this important factsheet about Parenting Plans

and this factsheet about changes to the Family Law Act that commenced on 6 May 2024.

If you are attending Child-Focussed or Child-Inclusive Mediation, please read the further information about these:

Child Inclusive Mediation

Child Focused Mediation