Family Dispute Resolution Process

Divorce_Family DisputeTransformations to the Family Law Act in July 2006 introduced the concept of family dispute resolution. Parties are generally expected to enroll in mediation with a registered family dispute resolution practitioner prior to filing an application in Court, except in certain situations.

Following the family dispute resolution process, this practitioner will issue what is known a Section 60I Certificate. If you haven’t been able to reach agreement with the other parties, you are able to use that Certificate as a “permit” to begin with proceedings.

If you want to go to Court, you will need to prepare court documents. An “Initiating Application” is a document where you tell the Court what Orders you wish to have them make. An “affidavit” is a document in which you tell the Court your story and the reasons you want them to make the Orders you seek. You may need to file affidavits from other witnesses.

Throughout the court process, you will have to attend Court. You might also need to attend meetings with a Family Consultant (previously referred to as a Family Court Counsellor) or other Expert. That Family Consultant or Expert will prepare a Report for the Court to aid the Court in deciding what to do in your matter.

Courts to consider seeking advice from family consultants

(1)  If, under this Act a court as the power to:

(a)  order a person to attend family counselling or family dispute resolution or

(b)  order a person to participate in a course, program or other service (other than arbitration); or

(c)  order a person to attend appointments with a family consant ; or

(d)  advise or inform a person about family counselling,family dipute resolution or other courses, programs or services;

the court:

(e)  may, before exercising the power, seek the advice of:

(i)  if the court is the Family Court or the Federal Magistrates Court–a family consultant nominated by the Chief Executive Officer of that court; or

(ii)  if the court is the Family Court of a State–a family consultant of that court; or

(iii)  if the court is not mentioned in subparagraph (i) or (ii)–an appropriately qualified person (whether or not an officer of the court);

as to the services appropriate to the needs of the person and the most appropriate provider of those services; and

(f)  must, before exercising the power, consider seeking that advice.

(2)  If the court seeks advice under subsection (1), the court must inform the person in relation to whom the advice is sought:

(a)  whom the court is seeking advice from; and

(b)  the nature of the advice the court is seeking.

If needed, your matter may proceed to a Final Hearing. In this situation, you and any other witnesses you have may be asked to attend Court to answer questions about their evidence.

If you have any questions about the process or if you would like any further information contact a family lawyer.

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