In the context of Family Law it refers to a range of services designed to assist parties to resolve disputes arising from separation or divorce – principally parenting arrangements and property division. It includes counselling, solicitor led negotiations, mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
The concept is for parties to a dispute to be able to resolve their dispute without the need for the involvement of the Court; or at least, without the need for the Court to fully determine the matter. And hopefully in a manner that will improve the parties ongoing relationship.
‘Family Dispute Resolution’ specifically though is a form of mediation whereby a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) helps the parties to resolve their dispute; focusing on allowing the parties to reach their own decisions about the parenting arrangements or property division and because of that involvement by the parties it improves the chances that the agreement will last and result in long term reduction of conflict.
In parenting matters it is, with limited exceptions, mandatory for parties to attempt Family Dispute Resolution before they can commence Court proceedings. While it is not compulsory in property matters it is actively encouraged.
This ‘pre-action’ Family Dispute Resolution involves the parties engaging a FDRP – either through a Family Relationship Centre or a private provider. The FDRP conducts an intake session with the parties (separately) to ensure that the matter is suitable for Family Dispute Resolution and then, if suitable, conducts the mediation between the parties to try and resolve the dispute.
Family Dispute Resolution is also a part of the Court process; in that, even after proceedings have been commenced the Court may order parties to participate in Family Dispute Resolution to try a resolve the dispute without the further involvement of the Court – or to at least try and narrow the issues that the Court may need to determine.
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