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:
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: