Understanding the Differences between Family Dispute Resolution Services (FDRS) and Formal Mediation in Family Law Matters

In family law matters, alternative dispute resolution methods such as Family Dispute Resolution Services (FDRS) and Mediation can provide a much more amicable and cost-effective approach to resolving conflicts, which avoids the need for expensive, stressful and drawn-out court battles. When considering these options, it is crucial to understand the differences between the two processes. This article aims to shed light on the distinctions between FDRS and more formal Mediation, particularly in terms of the professionals involved, the scope of discussions, and the level of formality.

Who is who? FDRS – A Trained Counsellor or Psychologist or Mediation – An Experienced Family Law Barrister

One of the key differences between FDRS and Mediation lies in the professionals involved. FDRS typically involves a trained counsellor, often a qualified psychologist, who serves as the mediator. On the other hand, Mediation is typically conducted by a highly experienced family law barrister. These differences can have several implications, which are valuable to know before making a decision on which is right for your needs.

Let’s take a look at a few factors that are worth considering prior to choosing how to proceed with your matter.

The Involvement of Lawyers

FDRS is generally conducted without lawyers, allowing the parties involved to engage directly in the process. In contrast, Mediation is facilitated by lawyers who can provide legal advice and guidance throughout the proceedings. The presence of lawyers in Mediation can assist in addressing complex legal issues and ensuring that all legal aspects are considered.

The Scope of Discussions

FDRS primarily focuses on parenting and custody matters, aiming to facilitate communication and agreements between the parties involved. However, discussions related to property and financial matters are usually excluded from FDRS sessions. The FDRS mediator, being a psychologist and not a lawyer, may lack the expertise to provide legal guidance or determine what is fair in terms of property and financial settlements. The practitioner may offer skills in understanding family dynamics that can be helpful for resolving conflict.

Formality and Cost

FDRS tends to be less formal than Mediation, which itself is relatively informal compared to court proceedings. FDRS sessions are often conducted in a more relaxed and collaborative environment, fostering open dialogue between the parties. Additionally, as FDRS does not involve lawyers, it is generally less expensive compared to Mediation, which incorporates legal expertise.

Understanding the differences between FDRS and more formal Mediation is crucial when navigating family law disputes. While FDRS involves a trained counsellor without the presence of lawyers and primarily focuses on parenting matters, Mediation is conducted by an experienced family law barrister and encompasses legal advice and discussions on a wider range of issues. Consider the complexity of the dispute, the need for legal expertise, and the associated costs when determining the most suitable approach for resolving your family law matter.

For personalised guidance and assistance in selecting the appropriate dispute resolution method, it is advisable to consult with a reputable family law firm. Their expertise and knowledge will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the best possible outcome in your family law dispute.