Click on the headings below to learn more about FDR Mediation.
The Advantages of FDR Mediation
FDR Mediation gives you the opportunity to work on a parenting agreement (Parenting Plan) for the care of your children, with the assistance of your mediator, in a private environment outside of the Family Court. Avoiding Court can save you time and money and is generally much less stressful.
Most importantly, as parents or guardians, you get to make the important decisions about your children’s welfare, rather than a judge who does not know you or your children. Unlike court, the parties to FDR Mediation are in control of the outcome and you may negotiate flexible and creative solutions that a court could not order.
The courts encourage parties to family disputes to use FDR Mediation and, unlike court proceedings, the process is quick, private, and confidential. It is also far less expensive than going to court. Mediation is in many ways a remarkable process. It has a timetable, structure and dynamics that simple negotiation lacks and it allows expectations to be checked and managed, and intransigence to be overcome. The opportunity to meet and discuss issues in an informal private and confidential setting with the assistance of a mediator, rather than in the impersonal setting of a courtroom, helps improve communications, break down barriers and preserve and/or rebuild relationships and reputations.
Paying for FDR Mediation
FDR Mediation is divided in two stages:
1. INITIAL ASSESSMENT
The initial assessment is fully funded for everyone. This means you will not have to pay.
The mediation stage is partially funded for everyone. However, depending on your income, you may qualify for full funding. If you qualify for full funding, you do not have to pay.
If you don’t qualify for full funding, the fee to participate in FDR Mediation is $448.50. This amount may be lower if there are more than two partially funded participants. Talk to your case manager if there are more than two parties in your mediation.
If your case is assessed as suitable for Mediation, after the initial assessment, your case manager will work with you to make the financial arrangements to proceed to the mediation stage.
Partially funded: If you do not qualify for full funding, as a general guide, you can expect a request for payment of $448.50 from us within 2-3 weeks from now.
The Mediator’s Role
The mediator’s role is to assist the parties to a family dispute have difficult conversations, plan for the future, resolve differences in ways that protect and improve relationships, and make decisions that consider the interests, rights, and safety of everyone involved with the children’s best interests and welfare being the central focus.
Your mediator is a skilled and experienced professional trained to facilitate communications and assist parties to family disputes to identify and explore any issues or concerns. They will help you to:
- identify and explore issues to be resolved and options for resolution;
- support efforts to resolve those issues that best serve the welfare and the best interests of all children involved; and
- assist you to prepare a Parenting Plan to record any agreement.
The mediator is an independent and impartial person. The mediator is not an adviser or advocate for you or anyone else involved in the family dispute. They must remain impartial and neutral, and while you may have candid discussions with them, they will not give advice, express opinions, or make any decisions for you.
The Role of your Case Manager
Your case manager will work with you and the other party/ies to help you navigate the FDR Mediation process by providing guidance and reassurance when you have questions. He or she will also complete all the administrative duties to ensure that your FDR Mediation gets underway.
However, your case manager is not able to make certain decisions on the process, such as exempting a participant from FDR Mediation or deciding on a mediation date -- this is reserved for the accredited mediator.
The first step in the FDR Mediation process is for the mediator to assess whether FDR Mediation is suitable for your family dispute. This assessment may take place by phone, video conference or in person.
When that assessment has been completed, we will contact you to let you know the outcome.
If the mediator decides it is appropriate to start FDR mediation for your family dispute, you will be asked to sign an ‘FDR Mediation Agreement’ confirming that you have read, understood, and agree to be bound by the FDR Centre’s FDR Mediation Terms and Conditions.
Your mediator will then work with you to agree on the process and arrange dates and times for FDR mediation sessions. That process may involve the FDR mediator talking and/or meeting with you separately and/or jointly. It may also involve additional ‘Preparation for Mediation’ and/or ‘Voice of the Child’ services (see below).
Our experience has shown us that every family dispute is different and comes with its own specific needs and challenges. Your mediator will listen, guide and provide the best solution to help you resolve your family dispute.
If your mediator decides that it is not appropriate to start FDR mediation for your family dispute, they will give you an Outcome Form that states that your dispute is inappropriate for FDR mediation and the FDR mediation process will end. Only a small percentage of family disputes are not suitable for FDR mediation.
Preparation for Mediation - PFM
Preparation for Mediation is a service available during the Mediation stage as part of the 12-hour model. It allows you to speak with an independent professional who is experienced in working with parties to FDR Mediation. They will help you better understand the mediation process, what to expect, and how to manage your feelings and focus on your children so that you can participate more effectively in FDR mediation. Your discussions with your PFM provider are confidential.
Participating in Preparation for Mediation can often improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. We encourage you to think about using this service and to discuss it with me, the case management team or your mediator.
Voice of the Child - VoC
Voice of the Child (VoC) or child-inclusive mediation is a service available during the Mediation stage as part of the 12-hour model. The process involves the appointment of a professional who is specifically trained and experienced in child-inclusive practice ‘Child Inclusion Specialist’. They work with the children on their own, allowing the children to talk about what is happening to/in their family, to hear their perspectives and to provide parents with feedback as to how their children are coping with their separation to help them make better decisions that are in their children’s best interests.
In most cases, VoC involves the Child Inclusion Specialist:
- meeting with both parents and with the children separately;
- providing feedback to the parents;
- attending the FDR Mediation to speak on behalf of the children; and
- providing feedback to the children after the FDR Mediation on the outcomes agreed by the parents or guardians to ensure the children understand the agreements reached in the mediation and to offer support.
Where the children are very young (babies and toddlers) parents can still use the VoC process to hear from a professional such as a Psychotherapist with a specialised child scope of practice, as to what care and contact arrangements are best for very young children at different stages in their development. Many parents have found this VoC service particularly helpful when making decisions about babies, toddlers, and children of all ages. Joint parental consent is essential.