What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?



FDR is a process that involves a facilitator or registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) who assists separated parties to sort out the issues that arise from their separation. These may include parenting arrangements, property settlement, financial issues, interim or short term arrangements, trial arrangements, or long term plans.


The FDRP provides a safe space, and structured process, to allow for all parties to say what is important to them, hear what others have to say, and explore options to find a mutually acceptable outcome.




FDR can be conducted face to face, by telephone, and involve joint sessions, or a series of separate or individual sessions. In conjunction with you, the FDRP will determine that your issues are appropriate for FDR and the most appropriate format for your situation. Your safety will always be an important priority.


Intake Session


FDR consists of a separate Intake Session where you and the FDRP will determine whether you are at the right place at the right time to sort out your issues using FDR. If this is the case, the FDRP will then arrange for a settlement conference where they will work with all parties to achieve a mutually acceptable outcome.


At the Intake Session you will have a chance to meet with the FDRP and decide whether you feel you can work together to achieve a good outcome. You will receive information about FDR and provide background information to the FDRP so that they can be sure that FDR is suitable for you. They will assist you to think about the issues important for you, highlight the need for all relevant information to be available for the discussions, and start to help you see what an agreement might look like. They will encourage you to get legal advice as to your rights and entitlements; they will be impartial and non-judgmental; they will not provide legal advice or therapy. The FDRP must provide you with details about their qualifications, costs and complaint procedure, and other information of relevant legal issues.


Settlement Conference



The settlement conference will take place after the Intake Sessions and when the FDRP and all parties are committed to the process. The FDRP may have recommended some professional or other supports to maximize the opportunity for resolution. The process is voluntary, and confidential. In most parenting matters an attempt at FDR is compulsory before issuing court proceedings. In financial matters, pre-action procedures support the attempt to resolve matters without going to court, including mediation. FDR can also be attempted during the litigation process.


Range of options


There are a range of different FDR processes with different strengths. More information about these can be obtained from your legal advisor or from


The advantages of FDR include:


  • You make important decisions about your family and finances
  • You are empowered to directly participate in all aspects of the process, but most importantly stating the factors you consider important in achieving a fair outcome, and in agreeing to a resolution
  • This is an efficient process- in relation to the time that it can involve, the cost, and the stress involved
  • You have more control over the type of process that suits you, and the professionals or experts that you may want to involve
  • You have more control over the outcome with the options being limited only by your creativity and practical considerations
  • The FDRP will be child focused at all times and can talk with you about giving your child a voice in the process if this is appropriate.


Disadvantages of FDR include:


  • Any resolution can only be reached by agreement
  • Agreements are court recognised if signed and dated, but not legally enforceable without some extra steps
  • This process requires both parties to agree to participate


Do not hesitate to contact Creative Family Law Solutions if you have any questions about FDR or wish to discuss how it might assist you and your issues.

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