Family Court of Western Australia

Family Dispute Resolution

Family dispute resolution (FDR) helps you discuss your issues and reach an agreement. You can use family dispute resolution without coming to the Court, and come to an informal arrangement such as a parenting plan.

If you want to apply for parenting orders, you usually have to try family dispute resolution first. After you finish dispute resolution, you’ll be given a certificate to file with your application.

This requirement is to encourage parents to develop cooperative parenting solutions without going to court. Family dispute resolution is a practical way for separating families to try to resolve any disagreements and make arrangements for the future.

Even if you don’t resolve your issues, family dispute resolution can help you get clearer about which issues you do and don’t agree on. This will help when making an application and asking the court to make orders.

There are some situations where family dispute resolution is not appropriate, and you go directly to court without a certificate. For example, where there has been family violence or an urgent decision is needed. Visit the exemptions page for more information.

You aren’t required to attempt family dispute resolution for all types of parenting orders. For example, consent order applications – see ‘When a certificate isn't required’ below.

Family dispute resolution during the court process

You can try family dispute resolution at any stage of your separation, even if you have started court proceedings. If it is successful, then orders can be made in terms of that agreement. If it is not successful, then you can continue with the court process

Finding a Family Dispute Resolution service

The Family Relationships Online website has more information about how to take part in family dispute resolution.

The service has to be provided by an accredited practitioner, so the Court will recognise you have undergone an appropriate dispute resolution process. Accredited family dispute resolution practitioners are provide independent assistance to help you discuss issues, look at options and work out the best way to reach an agreement. 

Many organisations are approved to provide family dispute resolution.  The more well-known organisations are:

You can search for an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner on the Family Dispute Resolution Register.

Dispute resolution options

There are a number of options of dispute resolution available to parties to assist them to settle outside of court these include:

  • Family counselling
  • Negotiation, or
  • Conciliation.

You can find out more on the Family Relationships Online site, and contact one of the services for information. Sometimes the service will interview you to discuss your situation and make sure the type of dispute resolution is appropriate for you.

You will be given a choice of times and dates. Parties often reach an agreement after 2-3 sessions but it depends on your situation. Dispute resolution can also be conducted over the phone and this includes if one person is interstate or overseas.

  • If you go ahead with dispute resolution you should still get legal advice.
  • If you are interested you can read the information on the Family Relationships Online site, and contact one of the services for information. Sometimes the service will interview you to discuss your situation and make sure the type of dispute resolution is appropriate for you.

Family violence orders

If there are family violence orders in place, you can still go ahead with some forms of dispute resolution, but you must advise the service provider so that appropriate arrangements will be made.

After Family Dispute Resolution

What happens after dispute resolution depends on whether you have managed to come to an agreement with the other party.

If an agreement is reached, you can make a Parenting Plan or apply to the Court for a Consent Order.

If you can’t reach an agreement with your partner, then you can apply for parenting orders.

When a certificate isn't required

You do not have to provide a certificate if you are applying for an exemption, or if you are seeking:

  • interim or procedural orders only (generally these are orders to operate until your case has a final hearing) unless you are applying for these orders at the same time as filing an Initiating Application.
  • consent orders
  • Hague Abduction Convention orders
  • child support, or
  • amending an application (relating to a child that is the subject of the current application).

Last updated: 23-Jan-2024

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