If the custody or care arrangements for children are in dispute then it will be necessary to attend a family dispute resolution conference prior to going to Court. If settlement negotiations break down, it is not a matter of simply immediately commencing Court proceedings and getting before a Judge a week later.
Family dispute resolution is a process other than a judicial process (that is other than going to Court) where a family dispute resolution practitioner helps people affected by separation or divorce to resolve some or all of their disputes, and where the practitioner is independent of all parties involved in the process. That is it is a mediation, with an independent person who is an authorised practitioner being the mediator.
If you complete the process and no settlement is reached then you get a certificate to say that both parties attended and no agreement was reached, one party would not attend, or there is some reason the process should not proceed.
For mediation you can use a private provider (who will charge a fee) or a government provider (who may not charge a fee, but there is a longer wait).
To the right is a link for the central page for the government funded mediators, as well as a link for the Family Court's brochure about family dispute resolution.
But we are settling so I don’t need FDR?
Once you have that FDR certificate, prepare Court Documents, and file them, you are then two or three months away from a return date (that is you and the other party appearing before a Judge).
While at Coode & Corry we work towards settling your matter we cannot force people to behave in a sensible manner. At the end of the day if settlement negotiations are unproductive for whatever reason, we can
assist you to commence proceedings in the Family Court where a Judge who does understand family law and the need to focus on the best interests of the children will make a decision and so bring a final result to the
If you feel that settlement negotiations may not be effective, or if you feel that settlement negotiations may be assisted by an independent mediator, then you should contact an FDR provider now and begin that
process. If in the mean time the matter settles, that is fine you don't have to continue with family dispute resolution if your matter has already settled. The government funds some FDR services, and in the Penrith area there is Relationships Australia who provide a free or reduced cost service. We understand that there is a substantial waiting list to obtain a mediation through this free process, though you can confirm the expected
length of time if you contact Relationships Australia.
Alternatively, there are private registered practitioners who can provide a dispute resolution service and issue the necessary certificate should the dispute resolution fail, and though they charge for their time they are much quicker. The mediators generally suggest that the parties should share the cost of the mediation but if the other side won't pay you will need to pay this fee. These private mediators can usually issue a certificate saying that the mediation failed within two or three weeks, so if your matter becomes urgent and you haven't been registered with the free service then so long as you are willing to pay for this service it will take two to three weeks to finalise Court Documents, and so this period of time will not be 'wasted'. If however you can’t afford this fee then you should contact Relationships Australia as soon as possible.
Because at Coode & Corry we are working towards settling, it is completely appropriate to participate in FDR while also instructing us to assist you in relation to your family law matter.
If you are going through a family break down and need advice then you should come and speak with Jacinta Watkins. Our initial half hour appointment is free, and she can explain to you what you need to do and how we can help you with that process.
For most family law matters that settle we have a fixed fee arrangement, so you will know up front how much it will cost you. Other firms may seem cheaper because the estimate they give you initially is cheaper, but if your spouse is difficult or if there are are any hurdles along the way that estimate can very quickly blow out to much more than our fixed fee. If you want to know more about the process for settling and the cost then make an appointment to see Jacinta Watkins.