Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) and Mediation

Separated, or separating, parents must first try to reach agreement between themselves about the care of their children. If an agreement can not be made, the court requires parents to take part in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before they can apply to the court for a parenting order.  FDR is a specific process to help parents reach an agreement. FDR can also be called mediation.

FDR is a form of mediation where Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP) assist the separating parties with negotiating the division of parenting matters (which sometimes can also include resolving matters regarding property division). This can happen with both parties in the same room, or in separate rooms.

If you reach an agreement in FDR you can then make a record of your agreement in a Parenting Plan or have Parenting Orders drafted.

In some circumstances, parents can apply to the Family Court without going through FDR if a matter falls within an exception including if there is or has been family violence, if there has been child abuse or there is a risk of child abuse, or if the matter is urgent.

A parent will need to show the court that they should be excepted from participating in FDR, but sometimes even if a court is satisfied that an exception applies, parents can still be ordered to participate in FDR.

The FDRP is responsible for providing parties with a Certificate if the FDR has been unsuccessful, if one party will not participate, or if the parties are exempt from FDR. This Certificate is to be filed in the Court when making a court application to resolve the matter. An FDRP cannot provide you with legal advice.

If you would like more information about Certificates or FDR you can find a fact sheet on the Family Court website (if you, your partner or children are in WA you can find information and a fact sheet on the Family Court WA website).

Information regarding FDR can also be found on the Family Relationships Online website, or through contacting the Family Relationship Advice Line on 1800 050 321 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm).