Family Mediation

Family Dispute Resolution seeks to empower separating families to make the best decisions for their future.​

More about our approach to dispute resolution.

Our extensive experience has shown us this works best when families are able to work together to clarify their goals, focus on their interests and their children’s needs, and agree upon a mutually acceptable outcome.

The wisdom of parents will always be relied upon, as it is their knowledge of their children, themselves and their lived experience that informs good communication and negotiation.

Information gathering is an important beginning, as it enables parties to have all the relevant details at their fingertips for the development of a future vision and appropriate goals.

Relevant education around parenting, communication and negotiation will result in a growth mindset and facilitate robust and lasting outcomes.

Professional legal supports can be crucial to understanding rights and entitlements,  consequences, and to open up thinking for great option generation and will ensure that your agreement is captured and formalised.

Safety must be fundamental to all situations, as the foundation for opportunities of growth and flourishment in the future.


How quickly can I arrange mediation?

Once all parties have committed to engage in mediation, we will arrange for the separate Intake Sessions and the Settlement Conference to take place at a mutually convenient time within a fortnight.

Do I have to be in the same room as the other party?

No. The Intake Sessions take place with each party separately, and not in the presence of the other party. At the Intake Sessions, the format of the Settlement Conference will be discussed to ensure that this meets the needs of all participants. This can be joint, shuttle (where the parties are in separate spaces and the mediator shuttles between them), or a mixture of both. The process can take place face to face, by phone, by Zoom or a mixture. The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner/ mediator will undertake an ongoing assessment that will inform the decision regarding the most appropriate format in each situation.

Lawyer in a room with a client
Do I have to have legal advice prior to mediation?

No, but it is highly recommended that at some stage, there will be input from a family lawyer. This can be important to ensure that all relevant information is known, to provide advice as to legal rights and entitlements, to assist with brainstorming potential options and ideas, to ensure that all agreements are captured in a manner appropriate for the circumstances. Legal support can be obtained prior to, during, or after the mediation process.

Lawyer listening to a client
Can I go to mediation if I have an IVO?

Most IVOs have an exception that allows for attendance at mediation. If not, this amendment can easily be made to allow mediation to proceed.

Is an agreement reached at mediation legally binding?

If an agreement reached at mediation is signed and dated, then this is no longer confidential and can be shown to a court as evidence of an agreement. Several steps are required to convert such an agreement into court orders that are legally binding, should this be necessary. If a matter proceeds to court, the court will start with the most recent Parenting Plan or Agreement.

Legal books
Can I bring someone other than my lawyer to mediation with me?

If you need a support persona and this would be useful for the mediation process, then they can accompany you through the process. This should be discussed at the Intake Session to ensure that it will not undermine the process, and the necessary steps can be put in place in advance.

What can I discuss at mediation?

You can discuss any issue arising from your separation at mediation. Generally this involves matters such as parenting, decision-making, resourcing the children’s needs, communication, establishing separate households, property settlement, ongoing support, and many others.

Do I have to talk with the other party at mediation?

Not necessarily. The Intake Sessions are separate and the other party will not be present. A joint assessment will be made as to the most appropriate format for the process in your circumstances. This may be joint sessions, shuttle sessions (where the mediator or FDRP will go between the parties), and/or a mixture of both. This can take place face to face, by phone, Zoom or other social media.

Two pairs of handles at lawyer's table
How can I be sure that information from mediation will not be used against me outside the process?

An agreement is signed by all parties prior to the FDR process confirming their understanding and commitment to the confidential nature of this process. This is also stressed in the Intake Sessions, and at the beginning of the Settlement Conference. The process does not proceed unless this is confirmed by all parties.

Where can mediation take place?

Mediation can take place at an agreed office, such as the CFLS office at 1 Nicholson Street, East Melbourne, or the RACV Business Centre at 501 Bourke Street, Melbourne, or Karstens at 123 Queen Street Melbourne. It can also take place by Zoom, which will mean that each party will receive a Zoom link sent to their email address prior to the mediation Sessions. If neither of these arrangements are suitable, other arrangements can be considered and agreed upon.

What is Conflict Coaching and how might this assist me?

Conflict Coaching is a process of gaining clarity as to goals, important factors, and how to develop a plan to work towards these goals taking into account the factors. It is a great way to become empowered when the other party will not agree to participate in mediation, or to prepare for the mediation process and maximise the chances of a positive outcome.

Initial Family Dispute Resolution meeting
Can my other trusted professionals have an input into the mediation process?

The goal is to make sure that you are in the best place to make good decisions for yourself and your family. This can often require the support of other trusted professionals, and it can be helpful to have the support of these trusted professionals in the mediation process. This can be discussed with the FDRP/mediator at the Intake Session, so that appropriate and timely arrangements can be made in advance.

How many sessions are there in the mediation process?

Generally the mediation process involves an Intake Session, followed by a Settlement Conference of 4 hours (half day) or 8 hours (whole day). There is often the need to review the arrangements, particularly with parenting matters, at an agreed time such as 3 to 6 months later, after a trial of the agreed proposals.

What people have been saying

Susan helped me with a very complex divorce settlement.  She was clear, direct and understanding, ensuring that I obtained a fair deal. Her communication skills were excellent, which made it easier for everyone to agree on the outcome. I would recommend her to anyone going through a separation or negotiation process.

Lisa Riddell
Town Planner
Interested in working together? Contact