Over the years changes have been made to the process of the Family Court, particularly regarding children's matters. Such changes have been made to improve the outcomes for children to meet the current needs of our society.

One such change was the inclusion of compulsory Family Dispute Resolution.

The object of Section 60I of the Family Law Act (Cth) is to ensure that all persons who have a dispute about matters that may be dealt with by an order under Part VII of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (relating to children), make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute by Family Dispute Resolution before the order is applied for.

By implementing the requirement to undertake Family Dispute Resolution (mediation) before initiating proceedings with the Family Court, allows the parents (or relevant persons) to try and reach an amicable outcome. This is important given that for matters involving children, parents will arguably have to liaise with one another to some degree over the years regarding the child/children. To be able to reach an amicable agreement would be beneficial for the children and the parents (if the circumstances provide).

Further, if parties are able to reach an amicable agreement for parenting arrangements, they will have saved themselves the cost, time and anxiety associated with running a children's matter through to final hearing in the Family Court system.

Family Dispute Resolution is only compulsory for those who want to go to Court over a parenting issue. In order to file proceedings relating to a child, one must also file a Section 60I Certificate to show that they have attempted to reconcile the issue through mediation before initiating proceedings.

There are however, circumstances where the requirement to lodge the Section 60I Certificate is not required, which include:

  • When the parties are lodging Consent Orders;
  • Where the matter is urgent;
  • Where an application has been made for interim orders;
  • Where family violence or child abuse is involved.
  • In the circumstances of family violence or child abuse, the Court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that there has been, or would be, a risk of abuse or violence if there were to be a delay in applying for an order.

In order for parties to undertake Family Dispute Resolution, they need to consult an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP).

To discuss Family Dispute Resolution further please contact our office.