Under the law in Australia, it is generally required that parents with a dispute regarding the care of a child are required to attend a Family Dispute Resolution Conference (FDRC) in order to attempt to resolve their dispute before they are permitted to commence Court proceedings.
There are always exceptions of course, so the Court does have the power to hear parenting applications without the parties having first participated in an FDRC. Examples of when an FDRC may not be appropriate include cases where there are allegations of family violence, a parent cannot be contacted or refuses to participate in an FDRC, or where a parent cannot effectively participate in the process, or where the application is urgent.
Nonetheless, the FDRC system in Australia generally does very well to assist parties to reach agreements for the care of children without the need to go to Court.
The FDRCs are hosted only by accredited and highly experienced mediators – and these mediations can be undertaken with the assistance of solicitors, or without the assistance of solicitors.
Generally, any agreement reached at an FDRC may also be formalised by way of a Parenting Plan or Court Orders if the parents wish.
If you have a parenting dispute and you’d like some guidance, legal advice or representation from one of our experienced team at an FDRC, please contact Stephanie Hope, Senior Associate at Sanicki Lawyers and head of the Family Law Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or otherwise on 03 9510 9888.