Family Dispute Resolution and Certificate 601
Should you be intending to commence family court proceedings (especially in child-related disputes), then please expect to participate in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). In an attempt to ease the pressures on the Family Law Courts, individuals and parents are encouraged to have participated in formalised mediation (or FDR) to ensure that they have made every attempt possible to resolve and agree to parenting. The FDR process is considered by many as a successful, practical, and an inexpensive first-step to making arrangements and agreements. By participating (either successfully or not) you will receive a Section 601 Certificate.
There are four certificates that will be issued:
- One or both parties didn’t attend due to unknown or unplanned reasons
- One or both parties didn’t attend due to the inappropriateness or potential harm of the mediation (for example domestic violence) to the situation or individuals
- Both parties attended and one or both made a genuine effort towards resolution or mediation
- Both parties attended and one or both didn’t make a genuine effort towards resolution/mediation
There are many places and options to use for FDR. The “private” options include law firms and mediation businesses. However, if cost is a factor, you might like to consider not-for-profit or government organisations such as Interrelate, CatholicCare, Unifam UnitingCare, Relationships NSW, Relationships VIC.
The process of FDR includes: (please note that each mediator may have a slightly different process, so please use this as a guide)
- Initial consultation with each parent individually to ascertain the appropriateness and willingness of each parent to participate in FDR
- At the mediation, each parent will have a brief one-on-one consultation with the mediator, then
- Together both parents will commence the formal mediation/FDR facilitated by the mediator
- The mediator will outline the “rules” or terms of FDR for the day and that will include confidentiality, not raising issues retrospectively (not dwelling on past issues) and being child-focused
- Each parent will be asked to raise the particular areas on concerns
- The mediator (in consultation with the parents) will prioritise the concerns in order for addressing and discussing
- Each item is discussed in detail with the intention of coming to a mutual agreement or resolution
- If successful, each parent will be given a framework (as agreed during the FDR) to create mutual plans/agreements between themselves with or without further assistance from legal counsel
- Successful outcomes include formulating parenting agreements, plans and orders by consent
Since FDR is confidential, the notes, mediators and everything discussed cannot be subpoenaed or will be inadmissible in court. This means that you can’t use any element of the FDR as a part of your evidence and stops individuals for ‘fishing for information’ on the other person. There are small exceptions to the confidentiality clause which include safety concerns and limited information included on the FDR Section 601 Certificate.
So when you attend your FDR, make sure you are genuinely open to the process and try to get the best outcomes in a relaxed, supportive and structured environment. There isn’t anything to lose by trying your best.