You will have many questions prior to and during the mediation process, this is normal. We will always endeavour to answer your questions and concerns on the same day you get in touch with us. To assist you further with your understanding of mediation and the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process, we have included some of the most frequently asked questions below.
What is Family Dispute Resolution (Family Mediation)?
FDR (Family Dispute Resolution) is the legal term for services (formerly known as Family Mediation) that help couples affected by separation and divorce to sort out family disputes.
FDR can help you to agree on a range of issues relating to:
- Property (Property Agreement),
- Money (Financial Settlement),
- Your children (via a Parenting Agreement). FDR is in fact a Family Law Court requirement when dealing with parenting matters, before a parent can proceeded to court.
FDR is a practical way of resolving disputes between separating couples. It costs just a small fraction of what it would to take the matter to trial and is far less stressful for you and most importantly for your children.
Your fully qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Perth Mediation Services will facilitate discussions regarding your specific needs and allow both parties to find positive and fair outcomes in a caring, unbiased and confidential manner. This can save both parties thousands of dollars, and months to years in waiting for family Court.
FDR allows people to finally move on with their lives and find happiness again.
Who can provide you with Family Dispute Resolution?
An accredited FDR practitioner is a person who meets standards contained in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008 and is a registered FDRP with the Attorney Generals department.
Only accredited FDR practitioners such as the mediators at Perth Mediation Services can issue S60I certificates under the Family Law Act 1975.
Is FDR compulsory for me?
Family Dispute Resolution (formerly known as Family Mediation) is compulsory when you apply to the Family Law Court for a Parenting Order.
Before making an application to the Family Court you must first obtain a S60I Certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner which states that you have made a “genuine effort” to resolve your dispute through Mediation.
The requirement to participate in FDR applies to both new applications, and applications seeking changes to an existing Parenting Order.
Are there any exceptions?
There are some exceptions to this requirement where:
- There has been, or there is a risk of, family violence or child abuse
- A party is unable to participate effectively (e.g. due to incapacity or geographical location), or
- A person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
- There is no requirement to undertake FDR if there has been family violence or child abuse.
These issues will be assessed during your initial pre-intake and assessment interview with your fully qualified Practitioner at Perth Mediation Services.
Who can go to FDR?
The people having the disagreement (generally the parents) need to be involved in the FDR process. If the other party doesn’t object, a support person or other family member may be able to attend FDR with you. Perth Mediation Services is happy to work with other professionals such as Lawyers and include them in the process.
Will my child be included in FDR?
It is rare for a child to be included directly in the FDR process since the mediator will act as the child’s advocate to ensure that under the Family Law Act that the best interest of the child is always taken into account.
PMS mediator’s especially focus on children’s welfare.
What information will I be provided with?
At Perth Mediation Services your mediator will initially advise you on the FDR process, your rights, his or her qualifications, and the fees charged.
They can also provide information relating to parenting issues and other services available specific to your needs.
What happens during FDR?
Before FDR can commence, by Law your mediator must first make an assessment to see whether mediation is suitable in your personal situation.
FDR practitioners at Perth Mediation Services are impartial and will not take sides. We will help you to explore family issues in an objective and positive way. Unlike counselling, FDR does not focus on the emotional side of relationships. It concentrates on resolving specific disputes to meet legal requirements.
FDR can help both parties to discuss issues, look at options, and work out how best to reach a just and equitable solution. PMS can then create necessary documents such as “parenting plans” and/or “property agreements".
Are things said at FDR confidential? Can they be used in court?
Everything you say to your Perth Mediation Services Practitioner in Mediation is confidential. There are however exceptions in certain circumstances, such as where a serious threat to someone's life exists or child abuse has occurred.
What is said during Mediation cannot be used as evidence in court. However all Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are mandatory reporters and are therefore required by Law to report child abuse or anything that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, and this may be used as evidence in some circumstances.
What if I feel unsafe?
It is important that you feel safe at all times during FDR.
If you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of your children you should tell your mediator as soon as possible.
If mediation is assessed as suitable to proceed, arrangements can be made to separate both parties into separate rooms. This is known as “shuttle mediation”.
What happens to any agreement reached at FDR?
If you reach agreement on arrangements for your children, this agreement can be recorded as a "Parenting Plan". A Parenting Plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents. Your agreement or Parenting Plan can include mechanisms to change arrangements and resolve disagreements that may happen in the future. Parenting Plans can be reviewed and renegotiated at any time.
Be aware than any changes to the care arrangements for your children can affect child support, income support and family assistance payments. There are special rules about including child support in your Parenting Plan. For example, if your parenting plan specifies amounts for child support, the Child Support Agency (CSA) can enforce your agreement if it is also a valid support agreement, and you or the other parent have asked CSA to accept it.
If your agreement relates to your assets. Perth Mediation Services can encompass this agreement in a Financial Agreement.
If you want to make your final Parenting Plan or Financial Agreement legally binding, you can apply to the court to have your agreement made into a Consent Order. You can do this yourself or ask your lawyer to do it for you.
What if FDR doesn't work?
FDR is an important process in attempting to settle financial and parenting issues. It is also a Family Court requirement when children are involved.
However if it fails, the mediator is able to issue a variety of section 601 certificates that can be presented to the courts and may aid in speeding your case through, and in the awarding of court costs. The certificate will say one of the following:The other party did not attend
- The other party did not attend
- You and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- You and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
- The FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
- The FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.
Does it matter who initiates FDR?
No, it does not matter whether you or your former partner initiated mediation.
Our goal is to help facilitate the fairest, best possible outcome for both parties. Our skilled mediators will be completely neutral and impartial. We will not judge you or your choices, we are here to support you through the mediation process.
What do I need to bring to the pre-meeting?
At the pre-mediation meeting (intake session) please bring any agreements, court orders or any other documents you would like to discuss.
At this meeting th mediator will spend time discussing your personal situation, the impact that it has had on you and your children, assess suitability for mediation and provide a list of information that you will require for the mediation session.
The mediator will also take your ex-partners details so that they can invite them to a similar pre-mediation meeting.
Do the kids attend?
No I will act on behalf of your children in their best interests during the meeting.
Can I bring someone to my pre-mediation meeting?
Yes, you are welcome to bring one support person to the pre-mediation meeting.
Can I bring a support person to the joint mediation meeting?
The mediator will make an assessment whether the presence of a support person is appropriate to your specific case.
What if one person is not available to attend?
Perth Mediation Services offers after-hours appointment times to assist clients with a speedy resolution of their dispute and maintain their work commitments. These appointments include early morning, late afternoon and weekend appointments for which there is no additional cost.
Skype and teleconference mediation meetings are also available where both parties cannot be physically present or distance to travel is a factor.
How binding is the contract?
The signed agreement is a contract between each other which can be made legally binding by filing a Form 11 (Consent Order) with the Family Court.
Can you give me some advice at the pre-meeting?
FDR practitioners are not allowed to give independent legal advice. PMS mediators have a legal background and can help you with information on legal procedures if required.
Haven't found the answer?
Don't hesitate to contact us in case you haven't found your answer.
If you’d like David to help with your unique circumstances, give Perth Mediation Services a call on 9300 0674 or complete the enquiry form and David will call you back within 24 hours.