Family dispute resolution is a process of the Australian family law system introduced on 1 July 2008. Families in dispute who want to apply to a court for a parenting order must first attend family dispute resolution. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example cases involving child abuse and family violence. Family dispute resolution is not currently a pre-application requirement for property matters.
Disputes between family members may be addressed by ADR (alternative dispute resolution). Indeed, the Family Court of Australia regards it as the preferred method of resolving disputes.
The issues discussed in family dispute resolution can include problems that have arisen during or after separation and the effect these problems have had on the children; how the child's best interests can best be served within the new structure of their family; parenting plans; and property and finances. Family dispute resolution is essentially a structured discussion offered to separating parents and significant others to assist in decision making about parenting and/or property. All discussion that take place during family dispute resolution are confidential, unless either party discloses an intention to harm a person or their property, or child abuse.
Family dispute resolution is designed to create the opportunity for parents and significant others to discuss how each can best continue to parent while maintaining a focus on their child's best interests being served.
Family dispute resolution practitioners can assist parents to develop parenting plans. They are impartial and do not take sides. However, in discussions involving the welfare of the children, the practitioner may adopt a more advisory role in order to help keep the best interests of the children in focus.
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