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.