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Family dispute resolution (FDR) is a process involving you and your ex-partner meeting with a family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP) to try to sort out your family law issues.

These issues might include who your children will live with, who they will spend time with and what to do about your shared property.  FDR can help separating or separated couples to reach an agreement without having to go to court.

If you and your ex-partner are able to reach an agreement during FDR, you may be able to formalise the agreement by including it in an application to the court for consent orders (parenting orders made by agreement), or including the agreement in a parenting plan.


What is an FDR Practitioner?

A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRP) is trained to resolve family and family law disputes.

FDR practitioners are impartial and will not take sides.  They can help you to explore family issues in an objective and positive way.  FDR differs from family counselling in that it concentrates on resolving specific disputes related to property and children-related issues.


Is FDR compulsory?

If you are intending to ask the court for parenting orders (orders about your children), or to make changes to current parenting orders, you must attend FDR and obtain an FDR Certificate before the court will let you file your papers. There are some exceptions, including

  • Where the parties agree and are filing for Consent Orders;
  • Where a party is responding to an application that has already been filed
  • If the  matter is urgent;
  • If there has been, or there is a risk of, family violence or child abuse;
  • If a party is unable to participate effectively (e.g., due to incapacity or geographical location), or
  • If a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.

If you do not attempt to go to FDR and get an FDR Certificate(and you are not exempted), and you then attempt to commence proceedings, the Court will not accept your application for filing.



All matters discussed with your FDR practitioner are confidential and without prejudice – that is, the content of your discussions cannot be used as evidence in court proceedings. The exceptions to this situation are:

If the FDR practitioner has to disclose the information to someone because of a particular law requiring that they do so;

If you give provide consent for the FDR practitioner to tell someone else the information;

If disclosure is necessary in order to:

  • protect a child from the risk of physical or psychological harm;
  • protect a person from a threat to their life or health;
  • protect a child or other person from violence or threatened violence;
  • protect property, including where a crime might be committed which will cause damage to property, or where property has already been criminally damaged;


Where the information is necessary for research into families (this does not include your personal identifying information, which will be kept private);

In order to prepare an FDR Certificate for the Family Court.


If FDR does not work

Even if the couple cannot reach a fully and final agreement, FDR may help you and your former spouse or partner communicate more effectively and narrow the issues in dispute.

If you try FDR but still need to go to court, you must have a signed certificate from an accredited FDR practitioner attesting to the fact that you have attempted to resolve your dispute via FDR, but have been unsuccessful.


*The information provided in this website serves as a general guide and does not constitute legal advice. It is based on our research and experience at the time of publication. Please consult our knowledgeable legal team for any specific inquiries or advice relevant to your circumstances, as the content may not have been updated subsequently.  

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