An impartial (neutral) mediator runs the session/s, helps you identify the issues and makes sure you each get time to say your point of view. The mediator will help you focus on what’s best for your children, but won’t force you to agree to anything. They also won’t make a decision for you.
If you’re separating or divorcing, you can also talk about relationship property during Family Dispute Resolution, but only if this helps you agree about the care of your children.
You can take a support person if everyone taking part in the mediation agrees. You should ask the mediator about it before the session.
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Family Dispute Resolution is an effective way of resolving a parenting dispute. It’s cheaper, less stressful and quicker than going to court. It also means you and your ex-partner still make the decisions about your children.
Most people need to attend the Parenting Through Separation course and try Family Dispute Resolution before they can ask the Family Court to settle their parenting dispute.
Sometimes taking part in mediation might not be right for you. For example, you might need to apply for an urgent Parenting Order because:
In these cases, you don't need to take part in Family Dispute Resolution.
Your mediator will first meet or talk with each of you separately to assess whether:
The mediator will then arrange your session/s.
The mediator will try to help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your children. They will focus on:
The mediator will make sure everyone has time to have their say. They won’t try to get you and your ex-partner back together. They won't make judgements about who’s right or wrong, or make decisions for you.
You may feel too angry or stressed about your relationship to think clearly about your children’s needs. The mediator may offer you sessions to prepare for mediation to help you manage those feelings. This can help you focus on the best outcome for your children when you attend mediation.
You may be able to get government funding to cover the cost of Family Dispute Resolution, including preparation for mediation.
You may also qualify for free legal advice from the Family Legal Advice Service.
If you don’t qualify for government funding, you can still use a funded mediator. If you do, you'll pay no more than $448.50 for your share of the cost.
Private or non-funded mediators set their own prices.