FDR refers to the various non-judicial methods used to resolve family law disputes by reaching an agreement acceptable for all parties to a marriage which has irretrievably broken down.
It is a requirement that parties in dispute are to attend mediation (or the like) and provide a certificate pursuant to section 60I(7) upon application evidencing same. The government has established family relationship centres which provide support services to parents. There are however, exceptions to attending alternative/family dispute resolutions that being abuse of a child, family violence and urgency per Section 90I of the FLA.
Section 10 of the Family Law Act defines FDR
Pros & Cons of FDR
Minimises costs of litigation
Formal adversary proceedings are avoided
Children benefit when parents agree on custodial arrangements because they know their children more than a judge will.
Parties avoid the risk of uncertainties of litigation.
Can save time and allow each party to proceed with their lives.
More likely to be consistent with the preferences of each spouse (and the children).
Parents are given considerable freedom with deciding on custodial matters.
Child’s social and psychological relationships with both parents ordinarily continue.
Different forms of dispute resolution
Negotiations take place “in the shadow of the law” and the mediator’s views of the range of likely Court outcomes create the “boundaries for resolution”.
Facilitated by both the Family Court and the Federal Magistrates Court.
Chaired by a registrar in financial disputes and with the assistance of family consultants where there are financial and parenting issues.
a mediator which merely manages the communication between the parties to proceedings.
The mediator assists parties to participate in interest-based negotiations, generate their own options and come to a resolution without giving views about appropriate settlement outcomes.
Lawyers can provide clients with advice before and after attending mediation however, lawyers cannot represent their client in mediation.
Relies on the active participation of both parties.
Family Relationship Centres
Federal Government major reforms in 2004 made available 65 Family Relationship Centres. This is a facility provided to parties in dispute to attend for assistance in settling matters in dispute without judicial proceedings.
Vision of the Family Relationship Centres
Helps parents work out post-separation parenting arrangements in the aftermath of separation, managing the very difficult transition from parenting together to parenting apart.
The core aim was to fulfil this need for a readily available and easily accessible source of advice and assistance.
Government ensured Centres are highly visible for public to make effective use of.
Their role is to be an initial point of information, advice and assistance, from which referrals can be made to the range of existing community-based services as appropriate.
Five major roles:
1. information, advice and referral to services which can strengthen relationships.
2. The provision of seminars, individual advice and free mediation when parents separate.
3. Assistance in resolving ongoing disputes about post-separation parenting arrangements.
4. Assistance to grandparents.
5. Help in resolving child support issues.
A role in supporting intact relationships
It assists individuals entering into relationships and not just couples separating.
A role in supporting parents following separation
Centres have a major role in educating, supporting and counselling parents going through separation. The goals are:
to help identify parents’ needs; to provide relevant information on post-separation parenting; to help parents access relevant services;
To help to negotiate workable agreements about parenting