In essence, yes: the two terms are used interchangeably, both in academic literature and in common language. However, regarding family separation, the term Family Dispute Resolution is used in accordance with the Family Law Act.
Mediation/Dispute Resolution is a non-legal, non-adversarial and structured process whereby an impartial and non-judgemental Mediator/Dispute Resolution Practitioner assist parties to have a constructive, problem-solving and future focused conversation, with the aim of assisting parties resolving their dispute.
If you have been in conflict with someone for some time and you haven’t been able to resolve the issue(s) yourselves, then the structure and focus of a mediation session and the assistance of a mediator may assist you in resolving the issue.
No. Attending mediation/family dispute resolution is voluntary. However, it is a legal requirement for separated parents to attempt Family Dispute Resolution before being able to apply to the Family Court, unless they can legally be exempt from Family Dispute Resolution. Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners can issue what is known as a 60I certificate, which may be taken into consideration if the matter ends up in court. If you have been invited to Family Dispute Resolution and are considering not attending, please seek legal advice about possible implications if the matter goes to court.
If the service is not right for you, Mediation and More will provide relevant referrals as required.
Please seek legal advice if your matter is urgent, e.g. if a parent has absconded with a child/children, or if you have major safety concerns for yourself or your child/children, as you may be exempt from attempting Family Dispute Resolution.
However, in Family Despite Resolution, parents may achieve a written agreement about their child/children, and if they both sign and date a written document setting out e.g. care arrangement and parental responsibility for the future care of their child/children, it will become known as a Parenting Plan; a Parenting Plan may be taken into consideration if the matter later ends in court.
Practitioners are Nationally Accredited Mediators and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs) registered with the Attorney General’s Department, and have Tertiary qualifications in either Psychology, Behavioural Science, Law, or Social Science. From attending a multitude of training over many years, all practitioners have high levels of knowledge, skills and experience in Conflict Resolution and associated services.