Family dispute resolution

A process to help parents and families come to their own agreements to resolve disputes relating to their children and financial matters.

Why do Family Dispute Resolution?

We work with couples to both support and communicate with each other on issues relating to their children, property division, financial matters and parenting plans.


Who uses Family Dispute Resolution?

Parents and families who are looking for a practical, child-focused approach to resolving disputes and conflicts that they are unable to settle on their own.

Separation is a difficult time for all parties, at Better Place Australia we understand this.  When couples with parenting issues separate, the Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975 requires both parties to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) sessions to make a ‘genuine effort’ to resolve their issues prior to lodging a court application.

Many couples are able to reach an agreement through mediation, reaching an agreement is far less costly and time consuming and is likely to reduce the detrimental impact of parental conflict upon children.


What does Family Dispute Resolution do?

Family Dispute Resolution can help couples to:

  • Determine parenting arrangements
  • Divide property and financial matters
  • Determine responsibilities and actions
  • Navigate through complex issues appropriately
  • Negotiate mutually acceptable outcomes
  • Reduce legal and emotional costs, not to mention time.


What can you expect?

FDR practitioners will assess the appropriateness of mediation in your case. They will consider issues surrounding family conflict, equality of bargaining power, safety of children, physical and mental wellbeing of parties or other relevant issues.

Our FDR practitioners will



We will hear your side of the story and help clarify your concerns



Determine with you whether FDR is the right process for your specific situation


Prepare you

Give you information on the process and help you prepare for FDR


Suggest referrals

We may suggest appropriate referrals for legal advice, counselling, income support or other assistance if required.

At the conclusion of the assessment the practitioner will determine if the case can move on to the next step, according to the Attorney-General’s Department guidelines.

The Practitioner will then invite the other person to participate and go through the same process. At the conclusion of these sessions, the mediator will determine whether the case is suitable to proceed to mediation. In cases where it is inappropriate for mediation, a s60i certificate can be issued.

If a party refuses to participate in the FDR process then a practitioner may issue a ‘failure to attend’ certificate with an indication on the certificate of which party did not attend. The issue of certificates can be confusing, your FDR practitioner will explain clearly how they fit within the family law process and how it relates to your personal situation.


Child in Focus

Each parent will need to attend a Child in Focus session. This group runs for 90-120 minutes and is designed to help parents focus on their children’s needs and understanding the Family Dispute Resolution Process.


Joint Sessions

The FDR practitioner will support you through the process and ask you both to agree to guidelines. You will each outline your own view of the issue and be supported to listen to each other. Your practitioner will help you break down the issue into an agenda, help you stay on track in the discussion and support you in finding mutual agreements.

Most parents take at least two or three joint sessions to work through the issues. Normally FDR sessions last for 2 hours. After the FDR, you will complete a post-FDR questionnaire that captures your circumstances after participating in mediation.

If the parents come to an agreement they will be provided with a written document of that agreement. If you are unable to come to an agreement, a s60i certificate can be issued.

If you want this agreement to be recognised as a parenting plan, both parents will need to sign and date the document. If you are wanting a legally binding agreement, it is recommended that you seek legal advice.


Formalising the agreement

Agreements in parenting mediation are recorded on the white board and written up and mailed after the session.

If both parents sign and date the document, this would be considered a parenting plan. If you would like a legally binding document, you may wish to speak to a Solicitor about drafting consent order.

In property mediations, the agreement is not legally binding until it is written up in the form of Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement. Please seek legal advice about formalising your agreement.


s60i Certificate

If the matter needs to go to court after going through mediation, you can request a s60i Certificate. This certificate may be issued if the other person does not agree to come through the process, if mediation is assessed as inappropriate, or if mediation does not result in an agreement. This certificate allows you to take the matter to the family law courts.

If you apply to the court for a parenting order, the judge may take the certificate into account when considering whether to order mediation or costs against one party.


Post Mediation Follow Up

Following closure of your Family Dispute Resolution service, Better Place Australia will contact you in approximately 3-6 months’ time via a short email with a questionnaire to follow up on your progress.


What won’t we do?

FDR practitioners are skilled and accredited with the Attorney General’s department. They help people communicate effectively, focus on what is important to both parties and facilitate workable agreements. This is a confidential process, except if there is a risk to people or property.

We will not:

  • Take sides in the dispute
  • Provide legal advice.

Fact sheets

Family dispute resolution – Fact sheet

Supporting children through separation – Fact sheet

Before you start Family Dispute Resolution – Fact sheet

Children: Family Violence and the Law – Fact sheet

Find out more about this service

Make an enquiry

This service is available at these locations

Get Support

Please make an enquiry if you would like to book an appointment for one of our services. Alternatively, you can live chat with us during business hours.

Scroll to Top