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How does Family Dispute Resolution work in practice?

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a simple step-by-step process, which is designed to help separating couples reach agreements on the issues that they bring to mediation so that they can move on with their new lives. 


Step 1: Find out if family dispute resolution is right for you.

The Family Dispute Resolution practitioner will speak you and your partner separately at a pre-mediation interview, which can take place face to face or over the phone, to make sure that Family Dispute Resolution is appropriate and likely to achieve what you are hoping for. It will also help you prepare for FDR.


Step 2: You agree on what to discuss

Both parties meet for a joint session of mediation. Each person has their say and the mediator helps make sure topics and needs are clearly understood.


Step 3: You discuss options and negotiate.

Mediators help you keep on track whilst you explore the issues, examine options and identify possible solutions.


Step 4: The mediator helps you reach workable agreements

You will receive a written agreement which can be signed and dated to become a Parenting Plan, or can form the basis of a Binding Financial Agreement or Consent Order. 


FDR sessions usually run for three to four hours to allow for issues to be fully discussed. There will also be breaks and times when you can speak privately with the FDR practitioner. Depending on the number and complexity of issues, two or three meetings may be required to work through the dispute.


Where appropriate, mediations can be conducted as a shuttle with both parties in separate rooms or by phone or Skype.


Do we have to attend Family Dispute Resolution?

Parenting orders can only be obtained by application to the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court. In order to apply, in most cases, you will need a section 60I Certificate from a registered FDR practitioner, stating that you made a genuine attempt at FDR. Our mediators at Sydney Dispute Resolution are authorised to issue section 60I certificates.


If the FDR practitioner believes that Family Dispute Resolution is not appropriate for your situation, you will not be obliged to attend and will be issued with a section 60I certificate.

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