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Family Dispute Resolution (Mediation)

Navigating Family Disputes with Care

The family law system encourages separated parents to try and agree on arrangements for their  children without having to go to court. Family Dispute Resolution is a specialized type of mediation,  is a practical, less stressful and less expensive way for separated families to sort out these  arrangements and create a written parenting agreement/plan as requested. Agreements made  during Family Dispute Resolution are not legally binding but can be made into a Parenting Plan or  Consent Order with legal advice. 

What is Family Dispute Resolution?
(also known as Mediation)

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a process that encourages separated parents to meet together  to discuss and make decisions regarding parenting arrangements for their children. Family Dispute  Resolution can also be used to resolve property and/or financial issues after separation (“Property  Mediation”).

Separating parents often face a range of issues that they need to resolve for the benefit of their  children and themselves. These issues may include; living arrangements for the children, holiday  arrangements, education, achieving effective communication as parents, child support/children’s  expenses, health care, and many other parenting issues.

  • Communication and Conflict Resolution: Facilitating constructive dialogue and helping family members develop effective communication and conflict resolution skills.

  • Divorce and Separation: Addressing plans for separation and moving into two homes.

  • Parenting Plans: Creating comprehensive parenting plans that prioritise the well-being and best interests of the children involved, this may include issues such as parenting arrangements, how children spend time with each parent, decision making and communication between family members.

  • Property & Financial Matters: Resolving disputes related to child support, property division, and financial settlements.

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Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP)

Bianca Roche-Bolger is an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner by the Attorney General’s Department. Bianca provides Family Dispute Resolution as described in the Family Law  Act and can also issue section 60I certificates as required/requested.

The role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner:

A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) plays a neutral role and does not take the side of  either participant, regardless of whichever parent started the process. The role of the Family Dispute  Resolution Practitioner is to help parties in dispute to come to points of agreement on parenting  and/or property matters and other associated issues that may be in dispute. Where there are  children involved, the Practitioner will encourage parents to think about the needs of their  child/children and assist them in making decision together that are developmentally appropriate  and in the best interests of their child/children. 

The role of the FDRP is not to give legal advice. The FDRP is independent and impartial. The FDRP  does not make decisions for parties. The FDRP however may at times encourage exploration of  options to help the parties reach best outcomes. The FDRP will help parties communicate  respectfully in a safe and comfortable environment. 

The FDRP will assist parties to: 

• Identify and clarify the issues in dispute 

• Develop and consider possible options to resolve those issues  

• Explore the practicality and acceptability of option 

• Help develop solutions that are in the best interests of the children

FDR with BRB

Participation in Family Dispute Resolution:

FDR is a voluntary process, however before filing an application in the Federal Circuit and Family  Court of Australia for an order in relation to a child, the parties are required, with some exceptions,  to attend FDR and to make a genuine effort to resolve any dispute relating to children. Exceptions  may include, for example, an urgent application to the court, family violence, child abuse or an  inability to contact one party.

You should be aware that if Family Dispute Resolution is required and you do not attend, or make a  genuine effort to resolve the dispute, should the other party choose to take the matter to Court,  then the consequences may be that;

  • The hearing of your case may be delayed, 

  • The Court may order you and the other party to attend Family Dispute Resolution, and/or

  • The Court may take this into account in deciding costs (you could be ordered to pay some or all of the other party’s legal costs).

Child Inclusive Family Dispute Resolution:

At times, with the agreement of both parents, the children are also invited to participate in the  process through a child consultation. Bianca is also an experienced Child Consultant and can provide  support to children and include their “voice” in the process when appropriate. Further information  on child inclusive mediation and its suitability can be requested. 

It is important to consider the views of children and how any agreements reached in Family Dispute  Resolution may impact on the children. For example, the FDRP may consider the impact of parental  conflict on children and/or relevant aspects of child development.


Parenting Plan:

If parents wish to develop a parenting plan the FDRP can assist in the preparation. Parenting plans  are not legally enforceable; however the parenting plan may be used as the basis for Consent Orders  to be lodged at the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and may be considered as part of  any legal or court proceedings including proceedings brought in relation to existing Parenting Orders.


Certificate 60I’s:

The Family Law Act 1975 requires parents to obtain a certificate from a Family Dispute Resolution  Practitioner before filing an application in court. To obtain this certificate you must attend mediation  (Family Dispute Resolution) and try and attempt to resolve any problems that you have in relation  to your child/children. If the participants cannot agree in Family Dispute Resolution the Practitioner will, on request, issue  you with a 60I certificate. This Certificate is needed in order to commence court proceedings.

Legal Advice 

The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner does not provide legal advice. Parties are encouraged to  seek legal advice at any stage in the FDR process and the FDRP may recommend parties seek legal advice. 

Support Persons 

With prior agreement of both parties and the FDRP, support persons may attend FDR. Support  persons do not speak or participate in the process. Support persons are required to sign a  confidentiality agreement.

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Family & Relationships Services Australia

Being Brave: The role of the FDRP in Child-Inclusive FDR

Bianca Roche-Bolger, Belinda Taranto 


4 June 2019

View original page >

The importance of giving children a voice within FDR is widely supported, but what does it take for Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs) to effectively include children? While the role of the Child Consultant has received attention there has been less emphasis on the importance of the FDRP. In this presentation experienced practitioners share their reflections on why FDRPs do not regularly include children in FDR processes. To give children a voice, FDRPs need courage to share their case and appreciation of their continuing role throughout CIP. Ultimately the partnership between mediator and child consultant is critical to bringing safe, meaningful child inclusion to the heart of FDR.

Belinda Taranto and Bianca Roche-Bolger will outline pivotal aspects of their working relationship as an FDRP and Child Consultant at Relationships Australia NSW. They will share illustrative case studies of their work within the RANSW facilitative model of FDR; and explore what they have learnt about the role the FDRP plays in promoting, assessing and facilitating Child Inclusive FDR. They will finally discuss their views on what motivates and enables FDRPs to work within the CIP multi-disciplinary model and invite reflection on the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for this work.

This presentation will be relevant to both FDRPs who have not worked with a Child Consultant, and experienced practitioners who might be interested in reflecting on their role within a CIP and how to work better with their relationships and referrals.

  • What is a child consultation?
    A child consultation provides children with a safe and supportive environment to express their thoughts, feelings, and preferences regarding family matters during the mediation process.
  • Why is child consultation important in family dispute resolution?
    Section 12 of the UN Rights of the Child states that children must be provided with the opportunity to be heard in processes where decisions will be made that effect them. Child consultation allows children to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives, promotes their emotional well-being, provides avenues for relational repair and ensures that their perspectives are considered in the resolution of family disputes.
  • Who can benefit from the child consultation service at BRB Mediation?
    Families going through separation, divorce, parenting disputes, or any other family conflict where children's interests are at stake can benefit from the child consultation service.
  • How does the child consultation process work at BRB Mediation?
    Our trained child consultants meet with children individually or in a sibling group setting to engage in age-appropriate discussions, activities, and exercises designed to explore their feelings, concerns, and needs regarding the family situation.
  • What age groups of children can participate in the child consultation service?
    Child consultation services at BRB Mediation are tailored to accommodate children of various ages, developmental stages, and communication abilities, ensuring that each child's unique perspective is valued and understood. The process is designed for children of school age (5 years and up) however younger children in a sibling group may still be able to participate. Adult siblings older than 18 years are also welcome to participate too.
  • Is child consultation confidential?
    Yes, child consultation sessions are confidential, and the information shared by children is not disclosed to parents or other parties without the child's consent, except in cases where there are concerns about the child's safety or well-being. The consultant will check with the child what information can be shared with their parents at the feedback session and explore with them how best to do this.
  • Who conducts the child consultation sessions at BRB Mediation?
    Bianca Roche-Bolger has trained in various models of child inclusive practice, and has many years experience in working clinically with children of all ages and their families.
  • How do parents participate in the child consultation process?
    While parents do not directly participate in the child consultation sessions, they will provide background information and consent for their child to participate. After the consultation, the child consultant will hold a feedback session with all parents and their mediator, to discuss key themes and specific needs, which in turn will inform the decisions reached in mediation.
  • Is a report written by the Child Consultant?
    No. As child consultation is a privileged process held under confidentiality of Family Dispute Resolution, feedback is given live to parents in session with the mediator. A report is not written, however, the mediator will take the child's issues and agenda back into the joint mediation session so agreements can then be formulated.
  • What happens if a child expresses concerns or disclosures during the consultation sessions?
    Bianca Roche-Bolger is equipped to handle sensitive issues and disclosures that may arise during the consultation process. They follow ethical guidelines and legal requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of the child while also providing appropriate support and referrals as needed.
  • How do I arrange a child consultation session at BRB Mediation?
    To schedule a child consultation session at BRB Mediation, simply contact us or The Mediation Collective to discuss your specific needs and concerns. Your family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator) may also have made a direct referral to Bianca Roche-Bolger for child consultation as part of your mediation process and Bianca will liaise with them to ensure that the process is comfortable and supportive for you and your child.
  • Additional Links & Resources
    Collaborative Professionals NSW Inc. is the professional body in NSW for practitioners in this space. If you're looking for people to build your team with head over to the link below:
  • What is collaborative coaching in the collaborative family law process?
    Collaborative Coaching is a specialised form of support provided to couples participating in the Collaborative Family Law Process. It involves working with a trained coach to prepare for and navigate the collaborative negotiation process effectively.
  • Why is Collaborative Coaching important in the Collaborative Family Law Process?
    Collaborative coaching helps individuals manage emotions, communicate effectively, and focus on their interests and priorities during negotiations. It promotes a collaborative mindset and enhances the likelihood of reaching mutually beneficial agreements.
  • Who can benefit from Collaborative Coaching?
    Any participant (parents / separating couples) and other team members (such as lawyers or financial experts) can benefit from working with the coach in the collaborative process.
  • What does a Collaborative Coach do?
    A Collaborative Coach provides guidance, support, and practical strategies to help clients prepare emotionally and psychologically for collaborative negotiations. They assist clients in clarifying their goals, managing conflict constructively, and maintaining open communication and strengthening the parental relationship into the future.
  • How does Collaborative Coaching differ from traditional therapy or counselling?
    Collaborative Coaching is focused specifically on preparing individuals for the collaborative negotiation process and does not delve into deep psychological issues or past traumas. It emphasises practical skills and strategies for effective communication and conflict resolution. It is time limited in that it is only necessary during the conflict resolution process.
  • Is Collaborative Coaching confidential?
    Collaborative Coaching does have some one on one sessions however the majority of the process is conducted in meetings with both of the participants and the members of their team present. Full and frank disclosure is a cornerstone of the process and clients should be prepared to discuss all aspects that arise as part of the resolution process. Everything should be able to be discussed on the agenda. The coach will help you prepare for these potentially difficult and uncomfortable discussions in the one on one sessions.
  • What happens if one party refuses to participate in Collaborative Coaching?
    While collaborative coaching is designed to facilitate productive negotiations, it is ultimately voluntary. If one any participant chooses to no longer continue then the collaboration stops and engagement with the coach and other team members will end. If a collaboration doesn't continue then participants will need to start all over again with a whole new team. Part of the agreement to participate includes agreement that they will continue until either a resolution is reached, or they end their relationship with their whole legal team. In respect to this, the Coach will spend significant time talking to you from the outset about whether or not the Collaborative Process is appropriate for you and your family, before you go down that path.
  • How do I get started with collaborative coaching at BRB Mediation?
    To begin collaborative coaching with BRB Mediation, simply reach out to Bianca or contact The Mediation Collective, to schedule an initial consultation.
  • What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?
    Family dispute resolution (FDR) is a process designed to help families resolve conflicts and disputes in a constructive manner, often with the assistance of a trained mediator or therapist.
  • Why should I consider family dispute resolution?
    FDR provides a safe and neutral environment for families to address issues such as divorce, parenting arrangements, property division, and communication breakdowns without resorting to lengthy court battles.
  • How does family dispute resolution work at BRB Mediation?
    At BRB Mediation, we work closely with families to facilitate productive conversations, identify common goals, and reach mutually beneficial agreements.
  • Who can benefit from family dispute resolution?
    Family dispute resolution is beneficial for divorcing couples, separated parents, extended families, and anyone facing conflicts related to family matters.
  • What are the advantages of choosing family dispute resolution over litigation?
    FDR is typically faster, less expensive, and less adversarial than going to court. It empowers families to maintain control over the decision-making process and fosters better communication and cooperation.
  • Is family dispute resolution confidential?
    Yes, confidentiality is a cornerstone of the family dispute resolution process. Discussions and agreements reached during mediation sessions are private and cannot be used against you in court.
  • How long does family dispute resolution take?
    The duration of family dispute resolution can vary depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the willingness of the parties to cooperate. Generally, it involves a series of sessions scheduled over several weeks or months.
  • What if we cannot reach an agreement through family dispute resolution?
    While the goal of FDR is to help families reach agreements, sometimes consensus cannot be reached on certain issues. In such cases, our mediators can provide guidance on alternative options, including further negotiation, support from lawyers, or the issuing of a section 60i certificate if court applications for parenting matters are needed.
  • Do children participate in family dispute resolution sessions?
    Depending on the circumstances and the children's ages, their input may be sought during mediation. However, their participation is voluntary and always conducted in a supportive and child-centered manner. Please see information child inclusive practice here >
  • How do I get started with family dispute resolution at BRB Mediation?
    To begin the family dispute resolution process with BRB Mediation, simply contact Bianca, or The Mediation Collective, to schedule an initial consultation. During this meeting, we will discuss your specific needs, explain our approach, and answer any questions you may have.
  • What is Family Therapy?
    Family therapy is a type of counseling or psychotherapy that helps families improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen relationships. It focuses on understanding and addressing the dynamics within the family system.
  • Why should my family consider family therapy?
    Family therapy can help families navigate challenges such as communication breakdowns, conflicts, parenting issues, divorce, grief, and transitions. It provides a safe and supportive space to address concerns and work towards positive change.
  • Who can benefit from family therapy?
    Families facing a variety of issues throughout the life cycle may benefit from participating in family therapy. Concerns may include marital conflicts, parent-child conflicts, blended family dynamics, and behavioural or emotional challenges during times of change and transition.
  • What happens during a family therapy session?
    In a family therapy session, a trained therapist facilitates discussions and activities designed to explore family dynamics, identify patterns of interaction, and develop healthier ways of relating to one another. Sessions may involve all family members or specific individuals depending on the goals of therapy.
  • How long does family therapy take?
    The duration of family therapy varies depending on the complexity of the issues, the goals of therapy, and the dynamics within the family. Some families may benefit from short-term intervention, while others may engage in therapy over a longer period.
  • Is family therapy confidential?
    Yes, confidentiality is an essential aspect of family therapy. Discussions and information shared within the therapy sessions are private and protected by confidentiality laws and ethical guidelines. For these reasons family therapy is usually not offered, nor appropriate for families that are actively engaged in court or litigated processes.
  • Do all family members need to participate in therapy?
    While the participation of all family members is ideal, it is not always necessary. Depending on the situation, the therapist may recommend sessions involving the entire family, specific subsets of family members, or individual therapy in addition to family sessions.
  • How do we know if family therapy is working?
    Progress in family therapy is often measured by improved communication, increased understanding, strengthened relationships, and the ability to navigate challenges more effectively. The therapist will regularly assess your progress and collaborate with the family to adjust treatment or change goals as needed.
  • What if there are conflicts or disagreements during family therapy sessions?
    Conflicts and disagreements are natural parts of the therapy process and provide opportunities for growth and resolution. The therapist serves as a neutral facilitator to help navigate conflicts constructively and promote understanding among family members.
  • How do we get started with family therapy at BRB Mediation?
    To begin family therapy at BRB Mediation, you can reach out to us to schedule an initial consultation or by contacting The Mediation Collective. For separated families, an initial individual consultation will usually be offered at the beginning, to discuss goals for therapy, any safety concerns and ensure it is the right process for you family at this time.
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