hat is Family Dispute Resolution (Family Law Mediation)?

Family Dispute Resolution is the legal term for Mediation services that help couples affected by separation and divorce to sort out family disputes, more quickly and at a lesser expense than litigation.

Mediation can help you to agree on a range of issues relating to:

  • Financial (Property Settlement / Maintenance / Child Support)
  • Your children (via a Parenting Plan)

The process involves an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (Mediator) meeting with each participant individually, before meeting with participants jointly to assist them reach an agreement tailored to their family’s needs.

Mediation focuses on finding resolution in an informal environment. It is a creative, solution-focused approach in which participants retain control over the outcome.

If an agreement cannot be reached between participants at Mediation, or if one party does not wish to participate at a Mediation, the Mediator may issue a Section 60i Certificate.

  • What does the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (Mediator) do?

    The Mediator is neutral and impartial.

    The Mediator will help participants to:

    • Have a chance to be heard equally and fairly.
    • Work out what issues are important to each of them and why.
    • Assist them to find areas of agreement and common ground.
    • Work with participants to find solutions to the identified issues.
    • Assist participants to consider the reality and effect of proposals, enabling them to be as objective as possible in their decision making.

    The Mediator does not provide legal advice. Nor do they take sides or impose a resolution.

  • What is the Family Dispute Resolution (Mediation) process?

    While every matter is different, typically the process involves the following:

    Initial contact

    A participant contacts the Mediator to enquire about Mediation and makes an appointment for an initial private session (up to 1.5 hour) with the Mediator.

    Inviting other participant

    Following attendance at the initial private session, the Mediator contacts the other person involved in the dispute and invites them to consider taking part in a Mediation.

    Second private intake session

    If the other person(s) is willing to take part in a Mediation, the Mediator will meet with them at their own private session (up to 1.5 hour).

    S 60i Certificate?

    If the other person(s) is not willing to take part in Mediation, or if the Mediator considers Mediation is not suitable, a Section 60i may be issued.

    Mediation Session

    If the Mediator considers the matter is suitable for Mediation, they will schedule a Mediation session (up to 4 hours) at a mutually convenient time.


    If agreement is reached at the Mediation, the Mediator will document that by way of a Parenting Plan or recap points of agreement.

    A Parenting Plan covers anything relevant to children’s care, welfare and development. It may include details of where the child(ren) live, times spent with the child, schooling and communication amongst other things.

    S 60i Certificate?

    If no agreement is reached at the Mediation, the Mediator may issue a Section 60i Certificate.

  • What happens at the initial private session?

    The Mediator will talk about the Mediation process generally so participants can make an informed decision to participate or not.

    Participants will be given the confidential opportunity to provide background information and the matter will be screened to ensure it is suitable for Mediation.

    The Mediator will make sure participants are prepared and ready to participate, providing them with a list of information they may require for the Mediation session.

  • What happens at the Mediation (up to 4-hour session)?

    Mediation is a structured process where the Mediator facilitates while participants are responsible for what they choose to talk about and the agreements reached.

    Opening Statements

    The Mediator explains the process.

    Each participant identifies what they want to talk about.


    The Mediator will write up an agenda for the Mediation.

    Participants will agree on the agenda and the order of discussion.

    In a property mediation, this step is missed and instead an asset pool is established from which to base negotiations on.


    The Mediator will invite participants to each talk to the other about their point of view on each agenda item.

    Participants will have the opportunity to explain their position and why it is important to them.


    The Mediator will encourage participants to brainstorm ideas addressing the needs of all parties.

    Participants will have the opportunity to propose different ideas to resolve the dispute and consider ideas from the other participant.


    The Mediator will recap any action steps or points of agreement reached.

    Participants may make a commitment to do certain things that will lead to resolution of the dispute.

    If you want to make your Parenting Plan/Agreement legally binding, you can apply to the Family Court to have your agreement made into a Consent Order. You can do this yourself or instruct a lawyer to do it for you.

  • How long does the whole process take?

    Timing varies depending on the availability of all various people involved.

    You can generally expect the initial private session to take place within the week but it can be done on a more urgent basis if required. The entire process can happen very quickly if all participants are keen to proceed.

    If your matter is particularly urgent, please advise during your initial enquiry.