Family Law Disputes

Separation is a major step for anyone, affecting every individual differently. Married or de facto couples separating are often encouraged to try family dispute resolution (FDR).

The process of separation or a divorce is likely to induce feelings of shock, denial, anger, blame or sadness, which can impact both partners ability to communicate and collaborate with one another. Mediation through a family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP) can help partners who are separating discuss important and immediate matters without placing stress on their fragile relationship, allowing them to move on from this stressful event with future-focused agreements. FDRPs are highly skilled and come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including law, which allows them to facilitate discussions on a diverse range of family disputes. They control the process of discussion, not the content and maintain confidentiality of the process, subject to limitations established by law.

Children are often hit hardest when a couple undergoes divorce. Parents need to determine the best way to share parenting responsibilities between them, and possibly include the child in their decision-making depending on their age. Through careful discussion, they can negotiate parental care in a way that ensures their child avoids the negative effects of a separation.
Should separating couples be unable to reach agreement about what is the best interests of their children then SHAW Mediation Australia is able to produce the necessary Section 60i Certificate required before issuing court proceedings or litigation.

Couples that are separating need to tackle how to divide property and assets, which typically includes the family home, holiday homes, cars, boats, jewellery and shared belongings. Their reason for separation can often determine how long this list grows. They also need to discuss financial arrangements for child support, and consider the need for spousal maintenance for a current or former partner. Couples may have to resolve how to best distribute financial assets such as superannuation, business operations or shares in a family business as well as the family trust. In FDR, both partners must be willing to listen and genuinely negotiate and commit to reaching a solution that may consider compromises.

Let SHAW Mediation Australia facilitate these important discussions that you may need to have to undergo family dispute resolution relating to any of the following:

  • Marital issues
  • Divorce or separation
  • Child custody and parenting disputes
  • Child support
  • Parental responsibility
  • Time with children
  • Conflict with family members
  • Conflict with other relatives
  • Grandparents’ rights, significant others
  • Trusts, distribution from trusts
  • Property settlement and contributions, future needs, just and equitable division of assets
  • Maintenance, spousal maintenance, child maintenance
  • De facto property settlement
  • Income
  • Tax, liabilities, assets, asset pool
  • Superannuation, defined interest funds
  • Relocation, passports, travel
  • Gifts

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Q. What is family dispute resolution?

A. Family dispute resolution is the name in the Family Law Act for services such as mediation and conciliation that help people affected by separation and divorce to sort out their parenting disputes with each other. You may have reached a point where you can’t agree on issues concerning your children. You may not be able to talk to each other at all. Family dispute resolution can help you sort out these issues without going to court. It is also helpful in resolving disputes relating to will, trusts and estates. If you can resolve your differences you’ll save yourself time, money and a whole lot of stress.

Q. What is compulsory family dispute resolution?

A. If you want to apply to the court for a parenting order after separation (and you have not previously applied), you will need a Section 60i certificate from a registered family dispute resolution provider which confirms that an attempt at family dispute resolution was made. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as cases involving family violence or child abuse. The FDRP at SHAW Mediation can issue these certificates.

Q. What is a Section 60i Certificate?

A. A Section 60i Certificate is particularly relevant to family disputes that involve custody or parenting issues. The S.60i Certificate, or Certificate of Attendance, is required before parents submit an application to the court for a parenting order, under the Section 60i of the Family Law Act 1975. This document aims to show that both sides attempted to resolve their issue through family dispute resolution or mediation. The S.60i certificate will be issued based on the following circumstances:

  • One person did not attend the mediation/FDR because the other person refused or failed to attend.
  • The mediator or the family dispute resolution practitioner did not see the issue fit for mediation, so both sides did not attend.
  • All the people were present during mediation or family dispute resolution, and genuinely tried to resolve the dispute.
  • All the people were present during mediation or family dispute resolution, but they did not make an effort to resolve the issue.
  • All the people were present in mediation or family dispute resolution, but the mediator did not see it appropriate to continue the mediation process for the dispute.

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Alison Shaw of SHAW Mediation successfully mediated a contract and building works dispute for one of our clients.  I found the mediation to be useful in requiring the disputing parties to be in one place at one time, allowing each side to express their position (and even vent their frustrations) whilst being kept in line by an experienced mediator. It was by no means certain to me beforehand that the matter would resolve at the mediation, but Alison’s guidance and systematic approach facilitated a commercial settlement.  I am confident the parties would not have reached a better outcome if they had gone to court.  I rate highly the mediation process used by Alison Shaw in this matter, and would recommend her to other clients considering mediation in the future.
Matthew Hawke

Cowell Clarke