Family Law Mediation. What happens if I say No?

Family Law Mediation is also called Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR“) and is the first step in parenting and property proceedings.

Family Law Mediation is also called Family Dispute Resolution (“FDR“) and is the first step in parenting and property proceedings. Before commencing Court action, a party must provide a Certificate from an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to say that the parties have made a genuine attempt at mediation. There are some exceptions and you should discuss any reservations that you have with either your Lawyer or the FDRP as one of the exceptions may apply in your circumstances.

There are several different Certificates that can be issued. The Certificate will say one of the following:

  • the other party did not attend
  • you and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • you and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • the FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
  • the FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.

If you want to say No to mediation because of fears of violence or fears that your child has been abused, you should raise these concerns as there is no requirement for FDR where there has been family violence or child abuse.

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What happens if I just don’t want to go?

You should be aware that if you do not attend FDR or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your Court hearing and there is the potential that the Court may also order you to pay the other party’s legal costs.

The Court will be able to take into account your refusal to attend FDR if there is an application for costs. It is possible that the Court will make an order for the other party’s costs on the basis that you refused to attend mediation and thereby increased the costs of each party.

Before deciding whether or not to attend FDR it is important to seek legal advice. We are able to discuss your concerns with you and advise you if FDR is suitable in your matter. We are also able to discuss the legal concerns with the FDRP and obtain a Certificate noting that mediation is not suitable rather than you refused to attend.

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The information in this article is not legal advice and is intended to provide commentary and general information only. It should not be relied upon or used as a definitive or complete statement of the relevant law. You should obtain formal legal advice specific to your particular circumstance. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

Solicitor Director
Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner