The law relating to divorce and property settlements now covers de facto relationships and demands the parties undertake dispute resolution before filing for divorce. The only ground for divorce is irretrievable marriage breakdown; certain conditions, for instance around separation, must be met.


Noah Eidelson


Family dispute resolution

Under the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 (Cth), family dispute resolution (FDR) must occur before filing a court application. The object of this is to compel people to visit a FDR practitioner (previously called a counsellor or mediator) and make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute. A certificate is provided after the FDR process is complete.

Exception for violence or abuse: The requirement to attend FDR before filing a court application does not apply where there are allegations of child abuse or family violence. (For more information, see Chapter 4.4: Family violence.)

A list of agencies that provide FDR is provided at the end of this chapter (see ‘Contacts’).

Counselling for parties in disputes over children is nearly always ordered as a first step.

Similarly, a conciliation conference with a registrar of the court or by a private mediator (depending on the value of the property in dispute) is normally a mandatory step in pursuing a property application. However, where parties cannot resolve their dispute, following the attempted conciliation, it will progress through the lists of the court to a final contested hearing in front of a judge.

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