What options do I have?
If you cannot reach an agreement, or it is not suitable or safe for you to engage in dispute resolution with your former partner, you can apply to the Family Court for a judge to make a decision for you. Please remember to seek legal advice for your individual situation. While some disputes would benefit from a judge to make a decision, going to court is expensive, time-consuming and may result in a decision that neither of you agree with.
Where it is safe to do so and you both feel that you can reach an agreement with some additional help, family dispute resolution or property mediation can be a useful way to avoid the stressful, costly and lengthy court process.
If you have yet to reach an agreement and are looking at your available options, you may consider the following:
Family Dispute Resolution
A quicker, cheaper and less stressful option. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) can help couples going through separation by giving them a space to express their concerns freely, identify and discuss their options, and work towards reaching an agreement.
FDR has the following benefits:
- Helps parents come to an agreement in the best interests of the child.
- It is your choice to participate. Sessions are confidential.
- FDR Specialists do not take sides and cannot give legal advice.
It is also a requirement of the Australian family law system that couples wishing to separate attend FDR and make a genuine attempt to resolve their issues where it is safe to do so, before deciding to go to family court.
Find out more about what FDR looks like and how it can help you to reach an agreement.
You are recommended to seek legal advice on your individual situation.
A less stressful and cost-effective way to sort out your money and property, facilitated by a knowledgeable and experienced mediator who will guide you through the process. A mediator can help you both to identify and evaluate both your assets (what you own), determine your contributions (whether you were working in a paid role or caring for the children), clarify both your needs and outcomes, and help you negotiate to reach an agreement on how your money and property will be divided.
Find out more about what the Property mediation process looks like and how it can help.
If FDR is not suitable for your situation or that your situation may benefit from going through court proceedings, you may choose to enter the Court system. For most situations, services such as mediation and FDR can help separating couples reach a faster, less stressful and less costly outcome.
If you feel that you are being coerced, feel that you are at risk, are experiencing pressure to make decisions you are uncomfortable with or are feeling unsafe, mediation and dispute resolution may not be suitable for you and it is important that you seek support.
Family violence support
If you are experiencing family and domestic violence, you can get help and support. See Family violence – finding help and support or visit the Family Violence Law Help website, which provides information about domestic and family violence and the law in Australia.
If you are in immediate danger, call 000