The law requires parties who have a dispute about children to make a genuine effort to resolve the issue through the Family Dispute Resolution process before commencing court proceedings.

If you want to apply to the court for a parenting order (or to change an existing parenting order) you will need a certificate from a registered Family Dispute Resolution practitioner. The certificate is issued under Section 60I of the Family Law Act1975 and is commonly known as a Section 60I Certificate.

There are a few exceptions to compulsory Family Dispute Resolution, such as cases involving family violence, child abuse or urgency.

What happens during Family Dispute Resolution?

Before Family Dispute Resolution can commence, an assessment will be made to see whether this process is suitable for your situation.

Family Dispute Resolution practitioners are impartial and will not take sides. Their aim is to help you resolve your dispute. Unlike counseling, Family Dispute Resolution doesn’t focus on the emotional side of relationships – it concentrates on resolving specific disputes. Family Dispute Resolution practitioners cannot provide you with legal advice.

The Family Dispute Resolution practitioner will speak to you and the other party separately or together, depending on the circumstances of your dispute. Generally, children will not be included in the Family Dispute Resolution process.

Is Family Dispute Resolution confidential?

Generally, anything said during Family Dispute Resolution is confidential and cannot be used as evidence in Court. However, a Family Dispute Resolution practitioner must report child abuse, or anything said that indicates a child is at risk of abuse, to the relevant authorities.

There are other limited exceptions to confidentiality (for example, preventing a serious threat to someone’s life or the commission of a crime).

What if Family Dispute Resolution doesn’t work?

The Family Dispute Resolution practitioner can issue you with the Section 60I certificate you will need for your application to the court. The certificate will say one of the following:

1.     you and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
2.     you and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort
3.     the other party did not attend
4.     the practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for Family Dispute Resolution
5.     the practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part of the way through the Family Dispute Resolution process

More information

For more information about Family Dispute Resolution, or any Family Law issue, call Berry Family Law today on 9399 7090.

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