Family Dispute Resolution


What does Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) look like?

by Leon Berger


Leon Berger is our:

  • Family Law Accredited Specialist Lawyer;
  • NMAS Accredited Mediator; and now
  • accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP).

We offer Family Dispute Resolution Services, and issue Section 60I Certificates as required.


What is Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR”)

Family Dispute Resolution can also be called Family Mediation, for separated couples with a primary focus on helping separating parents come to an agreement about what is best for their children moving forward.

Family Dispute Resolution can also assist in helping to resolve their property matters.

Family mediation is a great way to:

  • Separate amicably
  • resolve parenting details
  • minimise the impact of divorce on your children
  • positively co-parent moving forward
  • Settle on own merits
  • More cost effective than litigation


FDR is also a Court ordered mediation prior to continuing with your legal application with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA).  The Family Law Act provides detailed information about the requirements.

If separating partners have started the legal process with lawyers, the Courts require the partners to attend compulsory Family Dispute Resolution Mediation, before an application can be made to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) for parenting (custody) or financial orders.

We can help.

There are some exceptions to compulsory Family Dispute Resolution, such as when there are issues like domestic violence or abuse and a safe environment cannot be provided.

What does FDR look like?

  • The FDR Mediator and separating partners sit around a table together discussing relevant items about their proposals for parenting arrangements and/or financial settlement.
  • The FDR Mediator works together with the separating partners to try and reach mutual and suitable decisions on Financial and/or Parenting issues.
  • Other advisors can also be included, such as accountants, financial advisors, counsellors and psychologists.


The Process

Step 1

The FDR Process is a requirement for separating parties who have children to give them the best opportunity to resolve matters between themselves without having to resort to the court process.

Each parent will have an individual intake session to familiarise themselves with the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, to assess their suitability for FDR and the process.

It is also a good opportunity for both parties to consider what might be needed to discuss with the mediator:

  • their concerns,
  • their goals,
  • their vision for the future

before the first session to give the best opportunity for the parties for meaningful negotiations.

Intake sessions can be conducted in person, by telephone, or via videoconference (Microsoft Teams or Zoom) and usually take about an hour.

Step 2

If the matter is appropriate for FDR, a Joint Session is booked in for the parties and the mediator to explore issues, set an agenda and begin discussions around future arrangements for the children.

This can include:

  • the time children will spend with each parent,
  • children’s schooling,
  • extra-curricular activities, and
  • any other matters relevant to your family.


At the conclusion of a successful Joint Session:

  • The parties can be provided with a Draft parenting plan which the parties can rely on;
  • If it is a property matter, then a Draft Heads of Agreement can be provided;
  • A Section 60I Certificate is provided to the parties by the FDRP if requested.

Further Joint Sessions can also be scheduled to continue discussions and allow the parties additional time to consider proposals and arrangements.

If a resolution is not achieved, then a Section 60I Certificate is provided to the parties by the FDRP.



Who is the Mediator?

Our experienced FDRP Leon Berger, guides you through the steps required to try to reach agreement on positive co-parenting details and financial separation details.

Leon is a Family Law Accredited Specialist lawyer, NMAS Accredited Mediator, Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and Facilitator.

Leon is known in the profession for his sensible, calm, strategic and pragmatic approach to complex family law matters.  As a seasoned family law litigator, Leon is determined change the approach to relationship and family law matters by designing people-centred resolution processes focusing on maintaining civility and dignity beyond separation.

He views the best approach to relationship and family law matters is to find resolutions outside of the courtroom. You can read Leon’s full profile here:


What The Attorney Generals Department has to say:

What is FDRP

Family dispute resolution is a process in which a family dispute resolution practitioner helps people affected, or likely to be affected, by separation or divorce, to resolve some or all of their disputes with each other.

The law requires families affected by separation, who have a dispute about the care of children, to make a genuine effort to try to sort it out through Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before filing an application for parenting orders in court.

This requirement applies to anyone wanting to file an application with a family law court. It also includes those seeking changes to an existing parenting order. There are a few exceptions to this requirement, such as cases involving family violence, child abuse or urgency.

Unless an exemption applies, parties seeking to have a parenting matter determined by a family law court will need to file a certificate from an FDR practitioner. The certificate is issued under Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 and is commonly known as a Section 60I Certificate.

An FDR practitioner can also assist separating and separated families to agree on arrangements for their property without going to court.

FDR is confidential and is not admissible under the Family Law Act. However, this only applies when FDR is done with an FDR practitioner that we have accredited or who is authorised by a Court. Any other form of mediation is not protected under the Family Law Act.

For Families
An FDR practitioner is an independent person who can help people discuss issues, look at options and work out how best to reach agreement in disputes about children.

For Further Reference head to:  



If you, your friends, clients or colleagues are in the throes of separating and want to know where to turn to for a dignified respectful positive separation – then point them in our direction.  We offer a 15-minute free consultation to discuss the process, what to do next and how we can help.