25 September 2018

Do you need to attend mediation or Family Dispute Resolution prior to going to court in relation to parenting matters?

The Family Law Act facilitates what is known as compulsory family dispute resolution.  This requires parents to attempt to mediate their parenting dispute with a family dispute resolution practitioner (“FDRP“), prior to commencing proceedings in court.

If parties attend family dispute resolution and they are unable to resolve the issues in dispute, the FDRP will issue a section 60I certificate, which must be filed with any application made by a parent who asks the court to make orders about parenting arrangements for a child.

There are some exemptions to the requirement to file a section 60I certificate with an application for parenting orders.   Some of these exceptions include:

  1. where the matter is urgent; for example, the child has been relocated or abducted without the consent of the other party;
  2. if the court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child would be at risk of abuse if proceedings were delayed, where there has been child abuse and/or family violence or if there is a risk of family violence;
  3. if one of the parents or parties is unable to participate in family dispute resolution because of some incapacity; and
  4. if the application is in relation to a contravention of an existing parenting order.

If a party is filing an application without a section 60I certificate, they must file with that application an affidavit non-filing of family dispute resolution certificate.

Depending on the circumstances, prior to filing an application for parenting orders without a section 60I certificate, based on the family violence exemption, it may necessary to discuss the potential to attend family dispute resolution with a FDRP.

In some circumstances, a FDRP will issue a section 60I certificate without the need to attend family dispute resolution, if they deem mediation is not appropriate due to family violence considerations.

If you would like further information on the requirement of obtaining a section 60I certificate or attending family dispute resolution, contact our Cairns family lawyers today.

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