The Family Mediation Service provides confidential information, support, referrals and family dispute resolution to help couples who are separating to resolve a range of family law disputes. These disputes may include conflict over parenting arrangements, child support, financial matters and property settlement.
Family dispute resolution is a process by which people who are in conflict can be helped by a family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator), who is an independent and neutral third party, to communicate with each other about what is important to them and how to make decisions about resolving their dispute. It is now compulsory in the sense that people who wish to go to court in relation to their children (parenting matters), are required to first attend family dispute resolution and make a 'genuine effort' to resolve their dispute. Some exceptions to this requirement apply - for example, in situations involving family violence or child abuse, or in urgent matters. For matters such as financial arrangements and property settlement, family dispute resolution is voluntary.
Family dispute resolution is a three step process as follows:
1. individual intake and assessmentwith a family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator)
2. education session regarding children's needs (for parenting matters), the family dispute resolution processand strategies to help with communication and negotiation
3. joint family dispute resolution session(s) which can take different forms to accomodate varying needs such as both clients in the same room, a shuttle process where each client is in a separate room or attends on a different day, telephone mediation and co-mediation with two family dispute resolution practitioners (mediators)working together.
Our family dispute resolution practitioners (mediators) come from a variety of professional backgrounds such as social sciences, psychology, education and law. They are accredited and trained in resolving disputes relating to families and their expertise allows for a diverse range of issuesto be dealt with regarding children, finance or property matters. They do not give legal advice but will explore general principles that apply to couples who are separating and they may give advice and information in relation to children and parenting matters, focusing on 'the best interests of the child'. As well as parents, they can assist grandparents or other family members who would like to talk about the needs of related children.