Family law: Mediation services

Mediation is a dispute resolution process where parties involved in a dispute are assisted by an independent third party to help them reach agreement. Parties may agree to attend mediation to resolve financial and/or parenting issues. 

Mediation can take place before or after court proceedings are commenced. Agreements about the care of children which are reached at mediation can be formalised by way of Parenting Plans and steps can also be taken for mediated agreements to be made binding by the Court (known as consent orders). 

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a specific type of mediation which must, with limited exceptions, be undertaken prior to the commencement of court proceedings in parenting matters.  

Dispute resolution services can provide an affordable and timely option for resolving disputes, while allowing you greater input into the process and the outcome. 

You should ensure than any person you engage to assist with FDR is registered with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) or, if conducting arbitration, is accredited with the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM). 

Other dispute resolution, settlement and mediation services – stakeholder information 

Assistance with dispute resolution can be obtained through Legal Aid, Community Legal Centres or private legal practitioners. 

Legal Aid is generally subject to means and assets tests as a well as restrictions on the type of matters that assistance can be provided for. 

Community Legal Centres can provide free advice and some, but not all, can assist you with representation. A list of Community Legal Centres in each state and territory can be found on the Community Legal Centres Australia website. 

Private legal practitioners work on a fee-for-service basis. Each state and territory has a Law Society or Institute (for solicitors) as well as a Bar Association (for barristers). Law Societies and Bar Associations often operate: 

  • referral services to a legal practitioner who can help 

  • mediation services, and/or 

  • maintain lists of arbitrators.  

Law Society websites all have a ‘Find a Solicitor’ and ‘Find a Mediator’ function to search for solicitors and mediators in your area. 

The following webpages provide information on external dispute resolution services: 

ACT Legal Aid

Family dispute resolution

ACT Law Society

Mediation

ACT Bar Association

Find a barrister

Legal Aid NSW

Family dispute resolution

The Law Society of New South Wales

Find a lawyer

The Family Law Settlement Service (FLSS)  is a mediation program, administered by the Law Society’s Alternative Dispute Resolution department, suitable for financial or property disputes that are at the post-conciliation conference stage. Parenting matters are suitable for referral at any time and will be allocated to Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs).

New South Wales Bar Association

Alternative dispute resolution

Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission

Family dispute resolution

Law Society of NT

Legal referral service

Northern Territory Bar Association

Northern Territory Bar Association

Legal Aid Queensland

Legal Aid Queensland website

Queensland Law Society

Alternative Dispute Resolution
Find a solicitor

Family Law Practitioners Association Qld

Find a FLPA member

Bar Association Queensland

Barrister search

Legal Services Commission of South Australia

Family Dispute Resolution

The Law Society of South Australia

Mediation
Find SA lawyers

South Australian Bar Association

Barrister search

Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania

Family dispute resolution

The Law Society of Tasmania

The Law Society of Tasmania

Victoria Legal Aid

Family dispute resolution at Victoria Legal Aid

Family Law Bar Association (FLBA) at the Victorian Bar

The FLBA provide a list of Family Law Barristers  who are specialists in Family Law mediations. The Barristers on the list work either exclusively or primarily in Family Law and Family Law mediations.

The list includes those Family Law specialists who are prepared to undertake a mediation for a lower cost to assist parties with their property applications when there is a small pool or the parties are on a low income.

The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV)

Find a lawyer