The FDR Process
1. Intake and assessment
Prior to an FDRP providing FDR, under the Family Law Regulations, an assessment of the parties must be undertaken to determine whether FDR is appropriate.
The FDR process commences when one or both parties contact a FDRP.
Initially, the FDRP meets separately with each party for an intake/assessment appointment. During this initial stage, a FDRP is able to explain the FDR process and provide prescribed information, answering questions and concerns. The FDRP considers parties and their capacity to negotiate freely, history of violence (if any), likely safety, power dynamics, risk to children, health, etc. The intake also focuses on assisting parties to prepare for FDR and build their capacity.
At this stage or later, the FDRP may also provide parties with referrals to other services. This can include counselling, legal advice, financial advice, family violence services or other specific services. It is important that parties make informed decisions and are adequately supported.
Where one party has initiated FDR, the FDRP contacts and invites the second party to participate in FDR. The invited party needs to respond to the invitation. They can do so by organising to attend the intake appointment, or they can consult a Family lawyer about a potential exemption from the process, and inform the FDRP.
2. Decision to proceed
Following the individual intake appointments, the FDRP decides whether FDR is suitable, and the process for proceeding. There are a range of processes decisions the practitioner can make, including: Joint FDR with parties being together in one room, a shuttle process (in separate rooms), co FDRP (an additional FDRP), a telephone FDR service, inclusion of an interpreter, inclusion of support persons. The FDRP will discuss these processes with you. Worth noting is:
- FDR with a support worker/ person present during sessions must be negotiated with the FDRP in advance, and needs to be agreed to by the other party.
- Child inclusive practice involves a trained child consultant providing feedback on how the children are experiencing the separation/parenting arrangements.
- Lawyer assisted FDR involves both parties being represented by a lawyer during FDR.
For parenting matters, if the FDRP decides not to proceed with FDR, they can issue a certificate that parents need to proceed with any further legal action, such as going to court. There are a number of different certificates that can be issued, depending on the circumstances.
In property matters, the FDRP will also decide whether or not to proceed with FDR. Certificates are not required before proceeding with legal action for property matters.
3. The FDR process
FDR is a facilitated and structured process focusing on interests, that involves the following steps:
- Identification of the issues.
- Negotiation and brainstorming options.
- Review of options and making decisions/agreements.
- Implementation of agreements and review.