What is

Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution is an ‘out of court’ process used by separated couples to make decisions about the future. It is sometimes referred to as ‘family mediation’ or ‘family law mediation’.

Decisions that are made in Family Dispute Resolution might be about the care and living arrangements of children (often referred to as child custody). Or they might be about financial matters such as child support, or the division of property. Family Dispute Resolution is also sometimes used at the beginning of a family’s formation - to make decisions about pre-nuptial agreements or about conceiving a child with a surrogate or known donor.

In Family Dispute Resolution a neutral third party (the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) facilitates a conversation between the parties, making sure that the conversation stays safe and productive, and recording agreements that are reached. Family Dispute Resolution can be conducted in many different ways. Sometimes people will be in the same room for the conversation. Other times they will stay in separate rooms (when shuttle mediation is used) or even in different locations (when using video mediation services). Sometimes lawyers, or support people are present.

Family Dispute Resolution isn’t right for everyone. Before bringing people together for a discussion I will meet with each person individually and then make a call about whether Family Dispute Resolution is appropriate (and how best to conduct it, if it is). One of the things I will be exploring with you in these individual meetings is how you are coping with the emotional side of the separation.

Family Dispute Resolution is optional when decisions are being made about financial matters - but it is very often the most cost-effective and amicable approach. Where children are concerned there is a legal requirement to attempt to resolve a dispute through Family Dispute Resolution before asking the family law courts to make court orders. I am authorised to issue certificates (often called ‘s60I certificates’) which verify that there has been an attempt at Family Dispute Resolution. Certificates can be issued after a family dispute resolution session has been held, if I form the view that Family Dispute Resolution is not appropriate, or if one person starts the Family Dispute Resolution process and the other person refuses to participate (or fails to respond to a series of invitations to participate).

Steps in the Family Dispute Resolution process

Step 1 - Pre-mediation appointments

Before bringing you together I will need to meet with each of you individually for a pre-mediation appointment. These appointments are 60-90 minutes long. You can set up your pre-mediation appointment straight away - or you can wait until you know if the other person will agree to participate. If you’re ready to book a pre-mediation appointment, give me a call - 0476 657 799 or use the ‘Book Now’ button below to book your appointment online.

Step 2 - Invite the other person to participate.

You can do this yourself, and ask them to contact me. Or you can get me to reach out to them to let them know that you would like to arrange a mediation with my service. If you will need me to issue a s60I certificate if they decline the invitation then the invitation will need to come from me. If you would like me to send an invitation to get things started, give me a call - 0476 657 799.

Step 3 - Joint mediation appointment(s)

If you are both happy to go ahead after your pre-mediation appointments, and if I form the view that mediation is appropriate for your family, then the next step will be a joint mediation appointment. These appointments are usually three hours long. Depending on how much there is to discuss you might need more than one of these appointments. I can give you an indication of how many appointments you are likely to need after I have had pre-mediation appointments with each of you.

Keogh Mediation is a Canberra mediation and family dispute resolution provider. Video mediation services are available Australia-wide.