The Family Law Act, 1975, requires separating couples, to attempt mediation and make a ‘genuine effort’ to resolve parenting issues, before  an application for a Parenting Order is lodged with the Court. 

Family Mediation is about future-focussed, post-separation parenting.  It is  an opportunity "to feel heard",  one that leaves control of the mediation outcome in your hands. rather than a Court Official in a Courtroom.  The way you as a parent deal with the separation reflects how your child will cope with the change.  For children to  develop well they need a secure environment and there is good evidence couples are much less likely to break agreements they have made themselves . 
However, if both parties make a ‘genuine effort’ during mediation and it's not possible to reach agreement, a Section 60I certificate can be issued. 

What is the role of the Mediator?

The role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner [FDRP] is as a non-judgemental Mediator, who does not take sides and works with both parents equally, to write up a Goodwill Parenting Agreement or develop a Parenting Plan, which can form the basis of binding Consent Orders.   While an FDRP adopts a child focused approach in all mediations, an FDRP will not tell you what to do or say and cannot give you legal advice. It is recommended that parties seek legal advice before making any decisions regarding financial and property settlement.

Are Agreements reached through mediation binding?

An Agreement reached through mediation is not legally binding until an application is made to the Court for a Consent Order reflecting the terms of the agreement.

What is a child-focused approach to mediation?

A child-focused approach to mediation is putting the welfare of the children first.

What is Child Inclusive Mediation?

Child inclusive mediation is an approach which takes into account the wishes expressed by the child or children, as determined by a trained Family Consultant. who meets with them separately and provides feedback as to the children’s wishes and concerns.

What is a Section 60I certificate?

The Section 60I certificate will state either that the matter is not appropriate for FDR or, alternatively, the matter proceeded to mediation and both parties made a genuine effort to resolve the issues or, one party made a genuine effort to resolve the issues but the other party did not.

A section 60I certificate can be produced to the Court if an application is filed dealing with a parenting issue.

What is the Family Dispute Resolution Process?

Family Mediation is well a defined process which couples must follow.

Pre-Mediation [1.5 to 2 hours]

A confidential Pre-Mediation discussion with an FDRP will be conducted with each of you separately to discuss the process in detail and make sure the mediation process is right for you.  This meeting will also help you clarify the issues that are important to you and so prepare a framework for the joint session.  
If all parties are in agreement to proceed an appointment will be made to attend a joint mediation.

Joint Mediation [2 – 3 hours]

At the joint session, the mediator will help make sure each person has their say and the issues in dispute are isolated and clearly understood by each person.  These issues are explored, options for resolution of these issues examined and possible solutions identified.  During the joint mediation session there will be plenty of breaks when you can speak privately with the FDRP.
Drafting Agreement [1 hour]

The mediator will type up any agreements made during the mediation and provide each party with a copy.

What should I do to prepare for mediation?

You should prepare a list of the areas that are of concern to you and the outcomes you would like to obtain from the mediation and think about various ways these outcomes might be achieved.