Mediation Services – What computer requirements do I need?

A PC or Mac with a good internet connection, video camera, a microphone and speakers.  The use of a headset for mediation services is optional but recommended. If you can Skype you can use Family Resolve!

Why try Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?

Mediation or FDR can help you and your former spouse or partner to agree on solutions that suit both of you – and your children. It’s practical, confidential, and it works!

You must try FDR before you go to court if children are involved. If you can resolve your differences you’ll save time, money and a whole lot of stress. For FDR to work, both sides have to give it a fair go.

Is FDR compulsory?

mediation servicesYou can only apply to a family law court for a Parenting Order when you have a section 60I certificate which states that you have made a genuine effort to resolve your dispute through mediation services of FDR or where one or more of the following exceptions apply:

  • you are applying for Consent Orders
  • you are responding to an application
  • the matter is urgent
  • there has been, or there is a risk of, family violence or child abuse
  • a party is unable to participate effectively (eg: due to incapacity), or
  • a person had contravened and shown a serious disregard to a court order made in the last 12 months.

Certificates can only be given by FDR practitioners accredited under the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008.

Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 (the Act) as amended by the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 provides that all persons who have a dispute about children (under Part VII of the Act) must make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute by family dispute resolution before they can litigate.

Parties intending to apply for financial and property orders are encouraged to resolve disputed issues before filing an application for property matters.

Who can go to FDR?

The people having the disagreement need to be involved in the FDR process. If it is appropriate, you can bring family members or a support person with you when engaging in mediation services, including your lawyer. If you are planning to bring your lawyer with you, you should discuss this with Family Resolve as early as possible.

Will my child be included in FDR?

No, we can refer parties to a family counsellor or relationship centre who may talk with your child when you and the other parent are attending their FDR services. This will only happen with parental consent.

What information will an FDR practitioner provide me with?

Before you engage mediation services or FDR, your FDR practitioner must tell you about the FDR process, your rights (including your right to complain about the service), his or her qualifications, and fees charged. If you are trying to resolve a disagreement about your children, the FDR practitioner must give you information about parenting plans and other services to help you.

It is important that parties are informed about their legal rights, because it is not the mediators’ role to provide this information. Please collect any information and facts you need before the meeting.

What happens during FDR?

Before FDR can commence, an assessment will be made to see whether FDR is suitable for your situation. FDR practitioners are impartial and will not take sides. They can help you to explore family issues in an objective and positive way. Unlike counselling, FDR doesn’t focus on the emotional side of relationships. It concentrates on resolving specific disputes.

FDR can help both of you to discuss issues, look at options, and work out how best to reach agreement. Importantly, you can use FDR to develop a parenting plan to set out arrangements for your children. An FDR practitioner will also check that everyone understands what is being said and agreed upon.

When FDR isn’t working, the FDR practitioner can suggest other options or mediation services, such as family counselling.

Are things said at FDR confidential and can they be used in court?

Everything you say in front of an FDR practitioner is confidential – except in certain circumstances, such as to prevent a serious threat to someone’s life or health or the commission of a crime.

What is said during FDR cannot be used as evidence in court. However, an FDR practitioner must report child abuse, or anything said that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, and this may be used as evidence in some circumstances.

What if you are feeling unsafe?

It’s important that you feel safe, and are safe before, during and after FDR.

Our online mediation services platform can ensure that parties faces can either be seen or not as well as parties being heard. We can utilise shuttle mediation services and techniques online should parties find that a more convenient format to resolve issues. Parties need not hear or see the other party and the mediator shuttles between both parties online if required.

What happens to any agreement reached at FDR?

If you reach an agreement on arrangements for your children, this can be recorded as a parenting plan. A parenting plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents. Your agreement or parenting plan can include mechanisms to change arrangements and resolve disagreements. Parenting plans can be renegotiated over time, if necessary.

Be aware that any changes to the care arrangements for your children can affect child support, income support, and family assistance payments. Special rules apply about including child support in your parenting plan. For example, if your parenting plan specifies amounts for child support, the Child Support Agency (CSA) cannot enforce it unless it is also a valid child support agreement, and you or the other parent ask CSA to accept it.

If you want to make your final parenting plan or financial agreement legally binding, you can apply to the court to have your agreement made into a Consent Order. You can do this yourself or ask your lawyer to do it for you.

What if FDR doesn’t work? – Section 60I Certificates

Even if you can’t reach agreement, FDR may help you and your former spouse or partner communicate better. If you try FDR but still need to go to court for a Parenting Order, you will need a section 60I certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner. The certificate will say one of the following:

  • you and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • you and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort
  • the other party did not attend
  • the FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
  • the FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR          process.

You should also be aware that if you don’t attend FDR or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your hearing in court. The court may also order you to pay the other party’s legal costs.

Note: The Department of Families, Housing, Community Services & Indigenous Affairs encourages the dissemination and exchange of this above information © Commonwealth of Australia 2012

What do FDR mediation services cost?

  • $275.00 per party (incl. GST) paid in advance for each initial mediation session of 3 hrs.

Or alternatively

  • $550.00 (incl. GST) for total 3 hr session online to be paid for by one party if agreed.
  • Follow up session(s) if required – 2hrs: $440.00 per matter, $220.00 per party (incl. GST).

How do I get the family dispute resolution process started?

Fill out the Commence Mediation details online now.

For more information call 1300 MEDIATE (633 428) and ask about Family Resolve.

You can also visit the Australian Mediation Association www.ama.asn.au for further information about mediation services.