Mediation helps put children’s best interests first

Written by: Amy McCormick
Jun 09 2022

Family Dispute Resolution supports positive outcomes for both children and parents

Coming to an agreement with your ex-partner or anyone involved in the care of your children is rarely a straightforward issue.  

It’s not easy to decide who gets which night, which parent gets Christmas, or even how much screentime your children are allowed each day.   

Parents want what’s best for their children, but often heightened emotions and their feelings toward each other get in the way.  

Family Dispute Resolution  

To help avoid court proceedings, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) was introduced in 2014. FDR is a mediation service designed to help parties reach agreement between themselves without the need to go through the court process.  

FDR provides an environment for parents to come together with a professionally trained mediator to try and make considered and joint decisions about their children. If parties can reach agreement themselves this can save them money, time and lengthy and often ugly court disputes.  

Unless the matter is urgent, parties are not legally entitled to go to Family Court if they have not been through the FDR process.  

Changes to FDR  

Since its introduction, FDR has undergone significant changes to not only reflect the changing nature of families but to enhance the process and help the different parties reach better agreements.  

Key changes include:  

  • Preparation ahead of mediation 

Parties can talk to another trained professional, who is not the mediator, to prepare for the mediation.  

  • Appointment of ‘Voice of Child’ specialist  

A specially trained professional, such as a court approved lawyer for children or psychologist, meets with the children and then shares those views with the parties during FDR. Both parties must agree to this appointment.     

  • Managing the mediation  

The mediator has the ability to structure the mediation to ensure any complex dynamics (including family violence) are managed for all parties involved. 

  • Legal advice 

Parties can have their counsel present at the mediation to provide advice and support during what is an emotional time.  

Family Dispute Resolution can be a complicated process, and it is helpful to consult with a family lawyer to provide advice on your rights and obligations as a parent and /or guardian of a child. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please contact Amy McCormick on 09 985 2537 or [email protected]