What is Family Counselling and Family Dispute Resolution?

Date: Sep 05, 2011
Document Type: Newsletter

If you are involved in a separation or divorce then you may have heard the terms “family counselling: or “family dispute resolution practitioner”.

Family Counselling

Family counselling is a process where a family counsellor helps people affected by separation and divorce to deal with personal and interpersonal issues in relation to the relationship or issues in relation to the care of children from the relationship.

Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution is where 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 use of these non-court based dispute resolution services are set out in the Family Law Act and are to ensure that people affected, or likely to be affected, by separation or divorce are informed about ways of resolving disputes other than a court hearing.

Family Dispute Resolution and children

It is important to know that you can not commence proceedings in the Court for orders in relation to children of the relationship unless you have a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner.

The Family Law Act requires that all parties who have a dispute relating to children make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute by family dispute resolution prior to commencing proceedings in the Court.

To ensure compliance with this requirement parties commencing proceedings relating to children are required to file a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner with their application. A family dispute resolution practitioner can give a number of different certificates including

- A Certificate that says you did not attend family dispute resolution due to the refusal or failure of the other party to the proceedings to attend; or
- That the parties attended family dispute resolution and made genuine efforts to resolve the issues; or
- That you attended family dispute resolution and made a genuine attempt to resolve the issues but the other party did not make a genuine attempt to resolve the issues; or
- That the family dispute resolution practitioner considered that it would not be appropriate to conduct a family dispute resolution because of the presence of any of the following factors:
(a) There has been abuse of the child by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
(b) There would be a risk of abuse of the child if there were to be a delay in applying for the order; or
(c) There has been family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
(d) There is a risk of family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings; or
(e) One or more of the parties to the proceedings is unable to participate effectively on account of physical remoteness.
(f) If the application relates to a contravention of the order by a person and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has behaved in a way that shows a serious disregard of their obligations under the order.

If you are involved in a separation or divorce you need to ensure that you comply with the requirement to participate in non-court based dispute resolution services. If you are unsure of your obligations than seek legal advice on exactly what you are required to do in order to comply with the Family Law Act.

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