Everything you need to know about Family Dispute Resolution

Family Law

By Joelene Seaton – Partner – QLS Accredited Specialist – Family Law at MBA Lawyers


family dispute resolution


Separating parents can only make a Court application after giving family dispute resolution (FDR) a try. With parenting matters, FDR is mandatory before filing a court application. Dispute resolution encompasses many things and is often done before and during court proceedings.

Are you and your partner planning to separate? And do you want to make arrangements for your children? Our lawyers at MBA can help you resolve family disputes.


What Is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family dispute resolution is meant to help you and your spouse resolve your problems while reducing the stress that comes with separation. Dispute resolution services offer you a convenient and affordable option to resolve disputes, and you will have significant input on the process and outcome. It helps to seek legal advice to find what options are available and choose one that best fits your specific needs.

However, you may not have to seek family dispute resolution if:

  • One parent has breached a court order created in the last 12 months;
  • An individual cannot effectively participate;
  • There is a risk of child abuse or family violence;
  • The matter is urgent;
  • A parent is responding to an application; or
  • A parent is applying for consent orders.


What happens in Family Dispute Resolution?

The family dispute resolution practitioner helps you identify problems that need resolving and encourages you and your partner to listen to each other. You will share your options and ideas to develop a workable solution that priorities the children’s interests.

In certain instances, the practitioner will have you in different rooms if having you in the same room is not practical. Sometimes they must talk to you separately as it helps you discuss the negotiation options and move matters along. They confirm that you both understand what you agree to and help you create a parenting plan.

You could consider enrolling in a parenting orders program post-separation. This is not part of FDR, but it can help you learn to resolve future disputes.


Benefits Of Dispute Resolution

Dispute resolution presents you with a unique opportunity to improve your relationship and reach an agreement with the other party about co-parenting and legal issues essential to you. It is a chance to learn an effective way of communicating and helps you resolve disputes in the future. Since you will both resolve the issue, the agreement will most likely last.

It is also worth mentioning that the dispute resolution process is less time-consuming, less stressful, and more affordable than resolving disputes in a trial or through a court process.


How to find a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner or Service

There are different ways to find a family dispute resolution service or practitioner. These include:

  • Calls: You can call MBA Lawyers for FDR services.
  • Search: You can find an FDR practitioner or services on a search engine. You can look up regional FDR services near you, FDR services, or family relationship centres.
  • Family dispute resolution register: You can find private practitioners on this register. The register also lists their costs.
  • Government-funded services: You can get FDR services from Government-funded services. These include legal aid commissions, family relationship centres, and other community-based family law services.



Overall, disputes that are resolved through mediation are typically much cheaper than ones that are taken to court. The cost you incur for family dispute resolution relies on the provider, but it is free for eligible individuals. The fees charged by private providers vary.

On the other hand, community-based family law services offer a standard fee policy depending on the capacity to pay and income levels. For example, Family Relationship Centres provide a 1-hour free family dispute resolution session to all families. Clients who earn above $50,000 annually will pay a $30 hourly rate for the second and third hours. Those who receive social security and commonwealth health benefits and anyone earning less than $50,000 gross will receive the second and third hour free. If they need more sessions, the family relationship centre will charge them a fee depending on the specific centre’s policy.

It is best to let your family dispute resolution provider know if you are experiencing financial difficulties or low income.


What documents should you take to FDR?

When the Court orders you to seek a family dispute resolution service, they also require you to have specific documents. These documents should be exchanged, completed, and given to the individual conducting the dispute resolution. Note that the documents you need for a dispute resolution will depend on the nature of the issue.

The documents you should take to your dispute resolution may include:

  • Documents you have filled with the court such as affidavits, responses, and applications;
  • Confidential case summaries, including your respective proposals;
  • Expert reports.


Final Thoughts

If you are going through separation and have not attended family dispute resolution, consider giving it a try. It makes the separation process easier while prioritising your kids’ interests, and it is also more affordable than a court process.


MBA Lawyers and Family Law Services

At MBA Lawyers, we want the best for our clients and their children. Are you and your spouse going through separation and want to resolve your dispute? Look no further. MBA Lawyers can help. Call us today on 07 5651 2000.

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