Family Dispute Resolution
It is compulsory under Australian family law for separated parents to attempt Family Dispute Resolution before applying to a family law court for parenting orders (some exemptions apply).
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a specific type of mediation to assist parents make decisions for their families post-separation. Following an individual session with the FDR practitioner, the parents will jointly discuss the issues in dispute, consider options and attempt to reach an agreement on current and future needs, with the focus on the needs of their children. FDR practitioners are accredited with the attorney-general’s department, are neutral and non-judgemental.
While FDR is compulsory prior to commencing court action (with some exceptions) it is also a great opportunity for parents to reach agreements for their families with professional help, reducing time-consuming stress, conflict and financial strain – all of which benefit the children.
Child-inclusive Practice (CIP)
Child-inclusive practice is the model which includes children in the mediation, provided they they are of an age or maturity that is suitable to the proceedings. CIP is based on the premise that the entire family unit is impacted by the parental separation and that the family can be involved in expressing their experience of the separation so that the family can establish a supportive and secure post-separation family unit. Age and individual circumstances depending, the children may be involved in family consultations or the child consultant talks with the children separately and provides the child’s views back to the parents during the mediation. CIP recognises that despite the at times very painful and acrimonious nature of separation, at the core parents seek to do the best for their children and their children’s future.
Child Consultations and Counselling
Child consultations provide an opportunity for children to talk independently with a trained Child Consultant in a safe, supportive and comfortable environment. Children have the opportunity to express themselves and talk about other related concerns with an impartial counsellor. The Child Consultant then provides feedback and recommendations to the parents. It is important to note that this is not a forum for having children ‘choose’ between parents in the same way as a parent would never be asked to choose between their children.
Counselling is also available to assist children who are experiencing difficulties adjusting to the family separation.
Relationship counselling can be beneficial irrespective of whether you have chosen to continue your relationship or to end it. Using Gottman Method principles, both parties can improve communication and learn strategies to develop/increase empathy, respect, and managing of conflict. These skills will assist separated couples to best support their children through the separation, minimise the well-documented risks to children of continual parental conflict, and model the behaviours that will serve their children now and in the future.