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What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a term that includes negotiation through lawyers, collaborative practice, mediation, conciliation or arbitration to resolve a dispute after the breakdown of a relationship.

Separated families are expected to undertake FDR, and in parenting disputes, must make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute before applying to court. At Brander Smith McKnight, 95% of our divorces are settled out of court, saving you legal expenses, time and further stress.

What is the difference between FDR and Mediation?

FDR and mediation are technically two different things.

Mediation is an informal process where a family member, friend or independent counsellor facilitates a conversation in an attempt to resolve family conflict.

FDR, on the other hand, is a process outlined in Australian law (Part 11, Division 3 of the Family Law Act 1975) that focuses on resolving specific family disputes, and deals less with the emotional side of relationships.

How does FDR work?

FDR should be completed by a registered FDR Practitioner (FDRP). An FDRP is a third, impartial party that assesses the suitability of FDR for the particular dispute, invites each party to a session and keeps everyone on track during the process. They offer solutions that are in the best interest of everyone, including children. Both parties will get assistance in developing a parenting plan with clear, agreed-upon arrangements for the children. Your family lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can also be present during FDR and advocate for you.

When an FDR agreement is reached, the FDRP will make interim or final orders that reflect that agreement. These orders will take effect immediately.

If your FDR is unsuccessful, or one party fails to attend, an application can be made to Family Court. An FDRP will need to issue a Section 60i certificate to enable this. This certificate can also be issued if FDR is not appropriate for the family situation. For example, if there are concerns regarding family violence, safety, risks to children, or when parties are unable to negotiate.

Agreements reached within a court-based FDR can create binding court orders, while those outside the court are not automatically binding.

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