Family Dispute Resolution Survey Overview

Over 4 weeks from August to September, 110 family law solicitors throughout Melbourne and the surrounding regional centres were surveyed to obtain their opinions and experiences of Family Dispute Resolution services. Approximately 50 % responded and the following is a summary of the information provided.


The family law practitioners surveyed stated that Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is an important aspect of their service with most considering appropriate referrals on a regular basis. 47 % of solicitors indicated that they referred matters to FDR on a weekly basis, and 38 % monthly.

Creative Family Law Solutions

Creative Family Law Solutions accepts referrals from practitioners for legally assisted FDR.


For most solicitors, there were several key features that influenced their recommendations for FDR. Major issues involved the service provider including cost (77 %), availability (63 %) and location (56 %). For many others, their choices were influenced by the type of process offered, with the legal background of the FDRP (71 %), the ability for legal representation at the sessions (44 %), and the support for a legally supported process (38 %), being the leading considerations.

This highlights a level of complexity in the decision-making process between solicitor and client, to ensure the most convenient and appropriate option for FDR. The experience and qualifications of the FDRP stand out as important, as well as the ability for legal support either surrounding or directly as part of the FDR process.

Creative Family Law Solutions’s FDR Process

Creative Family Law Solutions provides a flexible service to reflect the needs of practitioners and their clients. Our intention is to undertake intake within a week of receiving a referral, and to allocate a mediation session within a fortnight of all parties completing the intake and committing to the process. We can travel to a mutually convenient location, and tailor our process to suit the needs of the participants, whether in person or by phone, in joint session or shuttle format.

Our major goal is to provide value for our service. Our fees reflect the experience and qualifications of our FDRPs and are an affordable option when compared with court proceedings. The management of appropriate interim arrangements, and the drafting of enforceable and clear agreements, make this service consistent with the legal process and complimentary to family law representation.


Most solicitors considered a number of purposes when referring clients to FDR. This again demonstrates the complexity involved in giving advice in this area, and the need to balance contrasting requirements.

The majority of responses noted several key purposes for referral to FDR:

  • To resolve parenting disputes (77 %)
  • To minimise legal costs (66 %)
  • To reduce issues requiring court determination (62 %)
  • To explore interim parenting agreements (58 %)
  • To obtain a certificate to allow the matter to proceed to court (57 %)

It is no surprise that most family law solicitors acknowledged the advantages for clients in resolving matters through FDR, particularly in parenting matters. The main factors were reducing issues in dispute and minimising legal costs. This has the advantages of allowing for clarification of the matters that can be agreed, and highlighting those that necessitate legal determination and justify the investment associated with litigation.

Creative Family Law Solutions’s process for FDR

At Creative Family Law Solutions, we can explore all issues arising from a separation, whether relating to financial or parenting matters, and we can work towards interim, or longer term arrangements. Our goal is to work with the lawyers to produce pragmatic outcomes that focus on the best interests of the children, and are consistent with legal advice and the court processes.


The major concern with FDR was the length of time the process takes and the impact of this on the likely legal consequences. This was noted as important in 68 % of the responses received. Family Lawyers are very conscious of the need to balance the advantages for the client in trying to sort out their own issues in FDR, with the long term consequences should there be lengthy delays in achieving a realistic outcome from this process.

Other concerns with the FDR process include:

  • The ability to engage the other party to the dispute (44 %), and
  • The bureaucratic nature of the process and the steps required prior to the issues being addressed (42 %)
  • The lack of appreciation by the mediator of the legal consequences of agreements reached (30 %)
  • The lack of clarity in written documentation of agreements reached (30 %).

Some of these factors are present in all FDR including the ability to engage the other party. Some relate to how FDR is delivered, such as the length the process takes, the bureaucratic nature of the process, and the steps required to get to the mediation session. Others relate to the type of FDR provided, where a legally qualified FDRP would be more likely to appreciate the legal consequences of a delay or particular outcome, and be able to ensure clarity in the written agreements reached.

Creative Family Law Solutions’s approach

At Creative Family Law Solutions we aim to arrange intake and the mediation session within a fortnight from commitment to the process from all parties. We are willing to assist with engaging the other party, and as legally qualified FDRPs, we are well aware of the legal consequences of agreements reached and the importance of enforceable and clear agreements. Our intake requirements have been simplified to make these easier and more efficient.

Question 5

Would you recommend Child Enhanced Process (use of a Child Consultant to provide age appropriate information)?


Would you consider Child Inclusive Practice (use of a Child Consultant to provide an independent report as to the children’s wishes)?


Would you recommend the opportunity for review after a trial period or agreed interval?


Opportunity for review is highlighted as an important feature of the FDR process. Many also indicated that they would seriously consider additional features to support the child focus or child inclusive aspects.

Creative Family Law Solutions provides for all of these options.


Quality of service, as well as value and convenience, have been highlighted as the most significant considerations for family law practitioners when considering and recommending FDR.

Most family lawyers face these issues on a weekly or monthly basis. When recommending FDR, many are influenced by the legal background of the FDRP, ongoing legal support for participants, and the option for legal representation in FDR. Their recommendations are also affected by cost, location and availability.

The most significant concern raised by practitioners is the length of time that the process takes and the impact of this on the legal issues. They seek a process that is efficient, can facilitate the engagement of the other party, is sensitive to their client’s needs and provides clear outcomes.

Creative Family Law Solutions offers a process that is efficient, flexible, managed by legally qualified and experienced practitioners, and aims to co-ordinate with family lawyers to add value to the conduct of their matters.

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