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What to know about family dispute resolution

Dispute resolution can be an easy way to resolve issues during a separation.

In parenting matters it is compulsory for the parties to attempt to resolve any dispute through Family Dispute Resolution with a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner prior to commencing court proceedings unless:

1.     There has been child abuse or risk of child abuse;

2.     There has been family violence or risk of family violence;

3.     The matter is urgent; or

4.     One or more of the parties are unable to participate due to incapacity, for example, physical remoteness.

If the parties reach agreement at Family Dispute Resolution the agreement may be documented by way of a Parenting Plan or Consent Order to finalise the matter without going to court. If the parties cannot reach agreement at Family Dispute Resolution, or one party does not attend, a Section 60I Certificate will be issued allowing a party to commence court proceedings for parenting orders.  

In matters involving the distribution of property, it is not compulsory to attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to commencing proceedings. However, once proceedings are filed, the court will order Family Dispute Resolution either by way of a conciliation conference or private mediation before the matter is listed for trial.

The dispute resolution process allows both parties to talk through and resolve their issues without having to pursue further legal action. Most matters resolve at Family Dispute Resolution either before or after court proceedings are commenced.

Settlement negotiations, including Family Dispute Resolution are "without prejudice". This means that settlement discussions cannot be brought up in Court at a later date. This ensures that parties are able to negotiate freely while being assured that concessions made during negotiations cannot be used against them later.

It is important to consult with a family lawyer in Brisbane, prior to attending Family Dispute Resolution. A family lawyer can advise as to your prospects and provide further information and guidance when going through dispute resolution or Court action.