In any civilised society there are only two methods by which disputes between parties can be resolved. That is by agreements between the parties or decisions from judges.

Family Dispute Resolution or FDR includes mediation which is a process by which a trained mediator facilitates an agreement being reached by the parties themselves. Generally it is also helpful and efficient for each party to have the assistance of legal representatives.

Mediation can involve discussions in a round table format or by “shuttle” where the parties and advisors are in separate rooms and they communicate via the mediator.

With some very narrow exceptions related to criminal offences, mediation is “without prejudice” which means concessions made at mediation cannot later be raised in evidence if the mediation is unsuccessful.

Mediation in property matters is often successful when both parties are well represented and well prepared; saving large sums of money that may otherwise be spent on proceeding to trial. In the event that proceedings are commenced, it would be unusual for the matter to be listed for trial unless mediation has occurred.

In parenting matters, the necessity to attend FDR is encapsulated with section 60I Family Law Act 1975. This section provides that as a general rule, unless a certificate is obtained from a mediator who is an accredited dispute resolution practitioner, a party cannot file a proceeding in court.