Specialists in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Mediation
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Family Dispute Resolution

On this page you will find important information for clients prior to the commencement of Family Dispute Resolution.

If you have children below 18 years of age
you are by law required to see an FDRP mediator.

It is important that you seek and retain a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) who is registered and accredited by the Federal Attorney General’s Department to conduct your mediation. It is important to recognise that a ‘mediator’ who is non-registered and accredited with the Federal Attorney General’s Department will not be able to formally complete some important aspects of the family mediation process, and is not permitted to use the title “FDRP”. Michelle is registered with the Attorney General’s Department to issue s60(i) certificates in accordance with the Family Law Act.

Based in Cairns Queensland Michelle is an accredited and highly skilled Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with five years experience in this field and has mediated around 500 cases. She has trained in child-inclusive and child-focus practice where the emotional travelling mechanisms of the child are taken into high consideration.

Menzies Mediation wants all families to have access to this service and payment plans are available. Please contact Michelle Menzies for further information.

If you are going through a Family Dispute with Michelle Menzies it is important that you read the following to give you the necessary information to sign the agreement to mediate.

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution is a process in which a trained, independent, registered, accredited, and impartial Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will facilitate discussion in order to help you to do the following:

  1. Clarify and isolate issues in dispute;
  2. Develop and consider different options for the resolution of these issues;
  3. Explore the workability of these options;
  4. If appropriate, reach agreement on actions and behaviour for the future. If a child is affected, this agreement must be in the best interests of the child; and
  5. Provide an opportunity for parties to have their say, to tell exactly how they see the problem in a confidential, non-threatening atmosphere without prejudice to rights.

What if the dispute involves Children?

If the dispute involves children (defined as under the age of 18 years) it is important to acknowledge:

  1. All decisions made must be in the best interest of the children; and
  2. That each of you is a parent and each has responsibility for your children

What happens in a Family Dispute Resolution?

There are several steps in the Family Dispute Resolution process. The mediator/s will interview each party separately (termed pre-mediation), possibly on separate days for approximately one hour and the mediator/s will;

  1. Step you through the process;
  2. Explain this document and answer your questions; and
  3. Explain service details and costs

Suitability of Mediation

Family Dispute Resolution may not be suitable where:

  1. There is violence or threats;
  2. Either party feels unable to speak freely or to negotiate;
  3. There is past history or current child abuse ;
  4. Geographic Remoteness; or
  5. The matter becomes an emergency

The mediator decides if mediation is suitable after meeting with each party during the Pre-mediation sessions.

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner's Role and Qualifications

  1. The Practitioner/s will remain impartial throughout the process and shall not support or promote the interest of one or the other;
  2. The Practitioner/s shall disclose any interest or bias:
  3. You have the right to obtain legal advice at any stage of the Family Dispute Resolution process. It is strongly recommended that you receive legal advice before you begin the process.
  4. Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are registered with the Attorney General’s Department. They have backgrounds in social science or law, specialized mediation training and undertake on-going supervised mediation practice and professional development.


Family Dispute Resolution is a confidential process. Information on matters discussed in pre-mediation interview or in joint mediation conference will not be provided by the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to persons outside the process, unless required by law or court order. Section 10J of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006 provides that evidence of anything said, or admission made, in Family Dispute Resolution is not admissible;

Confidentiality does not apply where:

In accordance with Section 10H of the Family Law Act 1975, confidentiality may not be maintained where the Practitioner reasonably believes that it is necessary to divulge information to:

The Practitioner will store the files securely. All records will be destroyed one year after the last contact.

The Practitioner/s may consult with a fellow Practitioner on any aspect of the Family Dispute Resolution provided for purposes of clinical supervision.

Such Practitioner is also bound by confidentiality.

Full Disclosure

The parties need to fully disclose to each other all financial, personal information and documents relevant to the matters under discussion. Any agreements reached in the joint conference (if they have been subsequently formalized), will be at risk of being set aside in later court proceedings if the agreements have been based on inaccurate or incomplete information.

Respect of the Mediation process

Each party needs to observe the following guidelines for behavior throughout the mediation:

Conflict of interest

If prior to Family Dispute Resolution conference occurring or during a Family Dispute Resolution conference, a Practitioner discovers that in relation to a party the Practitioner has:

Then the parties will decide whether the Family Dispute Resolution will continue with that session, or whether a new Practitioner should be appointed.

Participation of Others in Family Dispute Resolution

Other persons having a direct interest in the Family Dispute Resolution may be present in the conference/s with the consent of the parties and the Practitioner/s. Special conditions apply to the support persons.

Legal Effect of Agreements

Any agreements reached in Family Dispute Resolution are not legally binding. The parties understand that they may decide together to register their agreement in the form of Consent Orders with the Federal Magistrate's Court or the Family Court. It is strongly recommended that legal advice be sought before becoming party to a legally binding agreement.

Parenting Plan

Parents could also consider including provision in their Parenting Plan for how decisions are to be made about the children. Section 63DA(3) of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a child will be taken to spend substantial and significant time with each parent if the Parenting Plan includes;

The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will outline the nature of a Parenting Plan to you. A Parenting Plan is an agreement that sets out parenting arrangements for your children. Section 63 of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a Parenting Plan may be recognised by a court if it is in writing, is signed by the parents of the child, is dated and is made free from any threat, duress or coercion. Section 64D of the Family Law Act 1975 provides that a parenting order made by the court is subject to a parenting plan. Should any party wish to create a Parenting Plan for consideration by the court, you should seek independent legal advice about the meaning and effect of the Plan.

The Family Law Act 1975 provides that if it is in the best interests of the children and is reasonably practicable, parents could consider including parenting agreements in their parenting plan such as where the children will live and where they will spend time.

A Parenting Plan may deal with any aspect of the care, welfare and development of the children. The kinds of issues that may be included in the Plan include one or more of the following:

Private sessions

The Practitioner/s may, at the request of either party, or at the Practitioner's discretion, see either of the parties separately to assist the Dispute Resolution Process.


Because Family Dispute Resolution is a voluntary process, either party may terminate the Family Dispute Resolution at any time. The Practitioner/s likewise may at any time terminate the session if:

Certificates from a family dispute resolution practitioner

Unless exceptions apply, the court will expect to see a Certificate from a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner before hearing an application for a ‘parenting order’.

This certificate must state that either:


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Alternative Dispute Resolution & Mediation Specialists | Cairns | Ph 0400 840 676 | ABN: 69 203 830 108

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Disclaimer: This website is intended to only provide general information about the mediation process and other important information.
You should make your own enquiries or seek independent professional advice before making any decisions concerning your own interests.

2017 Menzies Mediation