In a recent appeal case Ellwood & Ravenhill  a father’s application for parenting orders was dismissed as he failed to comply with the requirements under Section 60I for the parties to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR).
The Family Law Act (s60I(7)) is clear in that it emphasises the requirement for parents to a parenting dispute to make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute at FDR before an application is made to the Court. There are some exceptions from the requirement to attend including where:
- There has been family violence, or risk of family violence;
- There are reasonable grounds to believe there has been child abuse;
- The application is urgent;
- The application relates to a contravention of a Court Order;
- Parties are unable to effectively participate in FDR.
Even in the above circumstances where an applicant is exempt from filing a s60I certificate, the Family Court has discretion to still make orders for the parties to attend FDR.
To avoid such a hiccup as was the case in Ellwood & Ravenhill, and unless the above exceptions relevantly applies, it is critical for applicants to remember that attending FDR and making a genuine effort to resolve parenting disputes before progressing through the court system is compulsory. In the same light, FDR may be a more pragmatic and economical approach, not to mention less traumatic and stressful, as FDRs are equipped with qualified FDR practitioners to support clients in sorting out their issues and develop acceptable solutions, that potentially lead to mutually satisfactory agreements, in the form of Parenting Plans. FDR gives the opportunity for clients to express their point of view and are free to talk about pressing issues concerning the children and thus promotes communication vital to enhance the ongoing parenting relationship.
Our family law team at Nevett Ford promotes FDR as an alternative to the Court process if we believe they are effective. Please contact one of our family team members on 03 9614 7111 if you would like further information about FDR, require legal representation or advice in relation to parenting disputes.