Family Dispute Resolution Conferences.
In simple terms, a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Conference is another name for mediation. In most cases, the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia encourage and sometimes require attendance at a Family Dispute Resolution Conference to assist parties to negotiate a resolution outside of the Court system.
Importantly, a Family Dispute Resolution Conference offers a quicker and more cost-effective option than going to Court to seek resolution.
Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) imposes an obligation on parties to make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute by attending a Family Dispute Resolution Conference before an application can be made to the Court with respect to parenting matters. The legislation stipulates that a Court must not hear an application unless the applicant files in the Court a ‘Section 60I certificate’ acknowledging they have made a genuine effort to resolve their dispute through Family Dispute Resolution.
As with all mediation, Family Dispute Resolution to a large extent relies on the co-operation of each party. Section 60I of the legislation acknowledges mediation is not always going to work. This, however, does not replace the requirement to attempt to resolve the dispute through Family Dispute Resolution prior to commencing Court proceedings. The Section 60I certificate can be awarded even if the other party chooses not to participate or co-operate in the process.
The Section 60I certificate is formal acknowledgement that you made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through Family Dispute Resolution. That means that even if both parties participate but an agreement is not reached, a Section 60I certificate will still be issued.
That being said, there are always exceptions to every rule and the same applies to the Family Dispute Resolution process. Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) allows for the requirement to attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to commencing court action be waived if the Court is satisfied there are reasonable grounds to believe:
- There has been abuse of the child by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
- There would be a risk of abuse of the child if there were to be a delay in applying for an order of the court; or
- There has been family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
- There is a risk of family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings.
In addition to being a quicker and more cost effective option than the Court process, a major incentive for most people to attempt to resolve their dispute through Family Dispute Resolution is that you retain greater control and management over the process, and ultimately, the outcome. If your matter ends up in Court, you are immediately constrained by the Court’s procedures and processes and in doing this, you will inevitably lose some control. If your case proceeds to a trial in the Court, aside from the costs and the time it takes for your case to be heard (which sometimes takes years), it will be the Judge who makes the final decision. This could mean that neither party achieves the outcome they want.
Neilson Law can assist you with a tailor-made proposal to fit your circumstances. We can provide a proposal specific for you and your children’s needs securing a better chance of a successful outcome.