Preparing for Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

What is FDR?

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a common type of mediation that helps parties going through separation or divorce to talk about their issues in dispute, consider different alternatives, and try and reach a solution together. It is an affordable, timely and less stressful way for parties to make their own decision about their circumstances.

FDR practitioners assist parties to resolve disputes, but they are not able to give legal advice or impose a decision.

A certificate known as a s 60I certificate is generally issued after the process.

In Australia, FDR is a compulsory process that needs to occur before parties initiate court proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Parties will need the s 60I certificate to prove that they have made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute. Although there are some exemptions, for example when family violence is a factor or if the application is urgent in nature.

The agreements reached at FDR are not automatically legally binding. If parties can reach a resolution at FDR, it is generally recommended that parties seek a lawyer after to help formalise the agreement. If the FDR is taking place as part of a court ordered process, then generally the judicial registrar conducting the conference will make interim or final orders reflecting what the parties have agreed on. 

How to prepare for Family Dispute Resolution?

  1. Focus on the issues and the children, not the other person

Write down and think about the issues you would like to discuss, and why it is important to you. Also consider what the other party might consider to be an issue.

Focus on what is in the best interest of the children, what the children would like to do, and what their needs are.

Understand that there are always varied perceptions. People often assume that if one person is right, then the other must be wrong. This is often not the case. You do not need to agree with the other person, you only need to try and understand where the other party is coming from. This will make the other party feel heard and be more likely to negotiate with you.

  1. Get advice from a Family Lawyer

The FDR practitioner does not give legal advice. You should seek legal advice prior to mediation so that you go in prepared knowing what your legal entitlements are.

We offer consultations to give you advice about how the law applies to your circumstances, information as to how your assets can be divided, inform you of what a judge might order and what your options are.

  1. Work out your best and worst possible outcome

After you have sought advice from a Family Lawyer and have gained an understanding of your legal entitlements, think about the outcome you would like to achieve from the mediation. Work out what you think would be a good outcome and what outcome you are willing to settle for. Be realistic in your expectations.

You should also consider for instance, what the other party’s concerns are, whether you want a quick resolution so that you can move forward with your life, and whether you would still like to maintain an amicable relationship with the other party for the sake of your children.

Think practically, such as the logistics of how much travelling your children will have to do.

  1. Understand your emotions

It is normal to feel emotionally charged, stressed or anxious through this process.

Monitor your tone of voice and how you are communicating. It is important to speak calmly and avoid criticising the other party such as putting the blame on them about the breakdown of the relationship.

Think about how your feelings may impact your rational decision-making capabilities during the process and come up with coping mechanisms that works for you. For example, take deep breaths and count from 1-5, take breaks as necessary, take a walk, or have a support person by your side.

Where can I find an FDR Practitioner or Service

For a government-funded service, you can contact the Family Relationship Advice Line at 1800 050 321. For a privately funded service, you can search the Family Dispute Resolution Register.

If you need legal advice or support before FDR, our experienced and compassionate family lawyers can assist you. Talk to us today for a FREE 15-minute family law consultation by calling 1300 111 835 or email at We look forward to helping you achieve a better outcome.


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Christian Bolog

Director | Head of Commercial Law

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