Family dispute resolution / alternatives to going to Court
In family law, you must make a genuine effort to resolve your dispute by family dispute resolution before applying to the courts.
Reaching an agreement with the other party offers many advantages, such as:
- you make your own decisions
- you greatly reduce the financial and emotional costs of legal proceedings
- your continuing relationship as parents, if you have children, is likely to work better
- you are able to move forward and make a new life for yourself, and
- you may improve communication with your former partner and be better able to resolve disputes in the future.
Changes have been made to the family law system to encourage parents to develop cooperative parenting solutions without going to court. Family dispute resolution is a practical way for separating families to try to resolve any disagreements and make arrangements for the future.
If your application is an application for a parenting order, then you must provide a certificate with your application to the Court. This requirement applies even if you have pre-existing orders in relation to the child that is the subject of the current application.
A court will not be able to hear an application for a parenting order unless a certificate from an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner is filed with the application.
In certain circumstances the Court may grant you an exemption from the requirement to file a certificate.
For more information about compulsory family dispute resolution (or to find a family dispute resolution service provider in your local area) call the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321 or go to www.familyrelationships.gov.au.
For more information about filing an application with the Court, call the National Enquiry Centre on 1300 352 000.
Dispute resolution (pre-action procedures) in financial cases
The Family Court requires people intending to apply for financial orders to follow pre-action procedures, including attending dispute resolution, before filing an application. (There are some exceptions to these requirements, such as those involving family violence, fraud or urgency.)
In the Federal Circuit Court, parties intending to apply for financial orders are encouraged to resolve disputed issues before filing an application. In most cases, parties will be ordered to attend family dispute resolution when an application is filed with the Court.
For more information about pre-action procedures, go to the 'Publications' section of this website and follow the link to either ‘Before you file – pre-action procedure for financial cases’ or ‘Before you file – pre-action procedure for parenting cases’.
For more information about the changes to the law, visit Family Relationships Online located under website links or call the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321.
Reaching agreement through dispute resolution – what next
If you and the other person reach agreement through a family dispute resolution process, you can make a parenting plan or obtain consent orders approved by a court.