When children are involved in your separation and divorce you are required to attend compulsory family dispute resolution before accessing the court system.

Family dispute resolution is used to negotiate an appropriate parenting plan. If an agreement can’t be reached, or family dispute resolution is inappropriate, a certificate is be provided which then enables the parties to issue court proceedings.

The rationale of attending family dispute resolution is to try and avoid the stress and expense of lengthy court proceedings by sorting the issues out before going to court. I have put together some tips to help you get the most out of family dispute resolution.

  1. Focus on the needs of your children, as ultimately the mediator and the courts will take this perspective, the court is not interested in your needs unless it affects the child;
  2. Separate the feelings you have towards your ex-partner and remember that the needs of your children are the focus;
  3. Where credit is due, compliment your ex-partner regarding his or her parenting skills – this will reflect well on you and also help break down barriers;
  4. Be realistic and realise that in most circumstances children benefit from spending regular time with both of his or her parents;
  5. Attend mediation with a proposed parenting plan;
  6. Be as professional and business-like as possible, don’t be aggressive or insulting, this behavior only reflects poorly on you;
  7. Try to not be reactive if something is said that you don’t agree with, stay composed;
  8. Prepare for the mediation as much as possible, you can also seek legal advice in advance to help in the preparation prior to attending.