Family Dispute Resolution and Mediation Services

Principal’s Message

 ‘Although for some working in the field, Family Dispute Resolution and Family Mediation may have come to be seen as something of a ‘tick the box’ exercise, I enthusiastically approach the process with the completely opposite mindset.  In my professional opinion, Family Dispute Resolution provides an absolutely wonderful, pro-active opportunity to bring couples together in the right, neutral facilitative environment at exactly the right time. In our professionally conducted and confidential mediations, people can finally set aside some of their conflicts to have in-depth input about the needs of their children, and also about their own finances. In many cases, this type of communication has not effectively occurred for a long time, due to the relationship issues involved.

For these reasons, at Premier Mediation Australia we spend much more time with our clients in the exploratory phase of mediation than is customarily experienced with other mediators, who routinely operate in a very process-driven way.

With the needs and goals of our clients firmly at the forefront of the decision making, we want to help bridge the gaps and incorporate the perspectives of both parents into open and non-judgemental discussions. We find that this thoughtful approach not only breaks down the barriers, but also helps couples to reach agreements much more smoothly and amicably’.    

Dr Brian Williams
Ph.D, LLB (1st Class Honours),
FDRP, NMAS Mediator
Principal, Premier Mediation Australia

Brian Williams Ph.D, LLB (1st Class Honours), FDRP, NMAS Mediator

General Information

Parenting Agreements & Plans

Legally Binding Parenting Plans

Section 60i Certificates

Property & Financial Matters

Additional Services

Your Journey So Far

Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life’.

Anne Roiphe

Make no mistake, moving through a marriage or relationship separation is an incredibly tumultuous, stressful and heart-breaking time in anyone’s life. Although articulating your future goals may be a fairly straightforward exercise when life is going well, this is no longer easy when your life has been thrown upside down by the end of a significant relationship. You can be left feeling overwhelmed, with your coping skills and resilience stretched to the limit. And whilst we all know that relationships tend to begin on a wave of emotions, regretfully many break down and end in a very emotional way as well.

This whirlwind period of unpredictable grief is often underrated by many people working with rigid, entrenched methods in the field of Family Law Dispute Resolution. But certainly not by us at Premier Mediation Australia.

We fully understand that at this time of sensitive personal crisis, doubt and uncertainty, these experiences can deeply affect you in so many ways, and it is sometimes not that easy for you alone to simply solve the challenges you face.

This is all perfectly understandable. Yet this is also a time when crucial individual decisions (and joint decisions) need to be urgently made about:

  • the future lives and care of your children
  • your future parenting involvement and arrangements
  • the division of your property and finances

Please DON’T risk being guided through these major life decisions by those with only very basic capacities and minimal knowledge. Such momentous decisions need to be guided by true professionals.

The legal issues in the area of Family Law and Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) can be very complex, confusing and ever-changing . With so much at stake – and with you probably already feeling a bit down and out – this is certainly not a game for amateurs. You need full-time, devoted experts with sufficient professional training, skills and experience to help you intelligently navigate through the legal minefield facing you.

Rest assured, that in your time of need, we can seamlessly provide you with all the professional help, compassion, guidance, encouragement and support you require. We believe that you deserve to have a sympathetic ear available to you whilst you face major life transitions. And of crucial importance, we also have a wealth of legal knowledge in the areas in which we mediate.

We fully understand the significant problems you are facing, and understand how important it is for you to solve them. You are not alone. We are here to help you. We can quickly work with you to address the challenges that are keeping you awake at night, and help put you on the path to rebuilding your life.

We will take the time to genuinely LISTEN to, and emphatically UNDERSTAND, your important story. We will strive towards some respectful solutions, take you to higher ground, and help you and your children get through to the other side.

Whilst the law is complicated, we are not. We offer practical assistance, not complicated jargon. The flagship feature of Premier Mediation Australia’s service that really makes us stand out is our focus on client needs, over and above everything else.

General Information

What is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), sometimes referred to as Family Mediation, is the legal term for independent services that help people affected by separation or divorce to sort out their family disputes.

If handled professionally and proficiently, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a process that keeps you in control while providing you with the professional support and guidance you need.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) can help you to reach agreement on a range of issues, including the all-important parenting arrangements for your children, and also your crucial property and financial settlements.

 With the right professional assistance, such as that available at Premier Mediation Australia, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) has been shown to be a highly successful process that produces results, allowing people to reach agreement without the need for court or expensive legal fees. Official surveys have indicated that more than 90% of cases are resolved prior to a final court date.

Is Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) Compulsory?

With some limited exceptions, Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is now legally compulsory for people who wish to sort out parenting matters. The law requires separating couples to make a genuine effort to sort out any of their disputes about their children through Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before an application for parenting orders can be filed in court.

This compulsory requirement not only applies to initial court applications, but is also required of those seeking changes to an existing parenting order. And even when a matter reaches court, the parties involved will often be referred back to mediation to try to sort out their differences.

People seeking to have a parenting matter determined by a Family Law court will firstly need to file a certificate provided by an accredited FDR Practitioner. These certificates can only be provided by FDR Practitioners accredited under the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008. The certificate is issued under Section 60i of the Family Law Act 1975, and is therefore more commonly known as a Section 60i Certificate.

What are some of the many benefits of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)?

For a start, you and your former spouse or partner will have an opportunity to agree on solutions that suit both of you – and even more significantly, your children.

If you can resolve your differences through Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) you will also save a whole lot of money, time and stress.

At Premier Mediation Australia, our services are much quicker and cheaper than if you take the matter to court and are required to pay the associated legal fees.

At Premier Mediation Australia we will impartially and independently provide you with the maximised support necessary to help you sort out your issues, putting you on the path to developing acceptable solutions and mutually satisfactory agreements.

To consider some of the other enormous benefits of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) and Mediation please click here

Is The Process Confidential?

Yes, it is. Except in very limited circumstances (which will be fully explained to you during our intake processes) everything you say in a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) session is private, discreet and confidential.

  • Also, what is said during Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) cannot be used later in open court. Effectively, what is said in mediation stays in mediation.
  • This allows you the opportunity to freely express your points of view, and to talk about the issues that concern you most.

How We Can Help You

Parenting Agreements and Parenting Plans

Legally Binding

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Section 60i Certificates

Property & Financial Matters

Parenting Agreements & Parenting Plans

‘The best security blanket a child can have is parents who respect each other’.

Jane Blaustone

Quite appropriately, the best interests and well-being of your children needs to be the paramount consideration in all Family Law matters.

We can competently draft any agreements or arrangements you reach in relation to your children – producing ‘court friendly’ documents. The detail required in such drafting and Heads of Agreement is usually much more complex than it first appears, so please entrust your future and that of your children to the expertise available at Premier Mediation Australia.

Your agreements can also be more formally and comprehensively recorded as a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan must be in writing, dated and signed by both parents. Your Parenting Plan can also include mechanisms to change arrangements and resolve disagreements, should they arise in the future.

The types of matters addressed in a Parenting Plan can be vast and varied, but commonly include items such as:

  •  The living and time arrangements for the children – where they will live, and how and when they will spend time with each parent
  • The allocation of parental responsibility for the children, including responsibility for making major, long-term decisions about them
  • How the parents will consult about their children, and the communication methods used
  • The decision-making processes parents will engage in about their children
  • How parents will manage their separated relationship
  • Decisions about the child’s schooling, medical, health and religious matters
  • Financial support for the children
  • Arrangements about the child’s sporting, extra-curricular and social activities
  • Decisions about travel, holidays and special occasions
  • The role of other significant relatives and alternative carers in the child’s life
  • The role and/or introduction of new or future partners
  • Questions related to relocation
  • The process to be used for amending the plan to take into account changing needs and circumstances
  • The process to be used if any disputes about the arrangements arise in the future

For the inexperienced or uninitiated, the drafting of a Parenting Plan can have many legal, organisational and procedural blind spots that need to be considered and navigated – so this is a task that you can have capably handled by the professionals at Premier Mediation Australia.

At Premier Mediation Australia, we are also flexible enough to understand that a Parenting Plan can also be re-negotiated over time, if this is necessary or desirable. This may occur to address different stages of a child’s development and their changing needs.

In most circumstances, a Parenting Plan can also be developed to make changes to existing Court Orders – without the need to engage in expensive and time-consuming hassles in court.

Once thoughtfully negotiated and skilfully drafted, our Parenting Plans have a very high success rate. This is hardly surprising – after all, they have been based on what the parents have agreed to, and they are in a position to know what will work for their family.

Legally Binding

If you want to make your final Parenting Plan legally binding, you can apply to a court to have your plan made into Consent Orders. At Premier Mediation Australia, we can professionally guide you through this process, should you decide to do this yourself, or through your own lawyer. When it is handled correctly, this is not only a very effective path to follow, but it is also worth noting that about 85% of court orders issued by the Family Court are Consent Orders

    Section 60i Certificates

    If you can’t reach agreement through FDR processes, at Premier Mediation Australia we are fully authorised to issue a Section 60i Certificate if required. This is necessary before the matter can proceed through court.

    By law, the certificate must indicate one of the following alternatives:

    • You and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute;
    • You and the other party attended but one of you did not make a genuine effort;
    • The other party did not attend;
    • The FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
    • The FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process.

     You should also be aware that if you don’t attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) or make a genuine effort to attend, this can influence the timing of your hearing in court. The court may also order you to pay the other party’s legal costs.

    Property and Financial Matters

    ‘Divorce is one of the most financially traumatic things you can go through. Money spent getting mad or getting even is money wasted.” 

    Richard Wagner

    When couples separate, crucially important decisions will need to be made and an agreement reached relatively expediently about how they will split their financial assets and/or liabilities. This will include making decisions about any properties that they own and/or live in, including the family home.

     Important Note: There are legal time restrictions applicable to property settlements, meaning that you need to sort out your property/financial arrangements within a reasonable time of your relationship ending: 

    • If you were married this should be within 12 months of your divorce
    • If you were in a de facto relationship, then this should be within 2 years from your separation.

    Therefore, unlike parenting arrangements which can be revisited and revised, you can’t simply change the property settlement once you have been divorced or separated outside the timeframes listed above. As with parenting matters, separating couples face considerable legal complexity when making decisions about their financial future and property divisions.

    From a legal perspective, a court considers a number of factors to assess that any financial agreements reached are ‘just and equitable’. This will not only include assets you have directly contributed to the relationship, but also non-financial considerations, and the future needs of each partner and your children. Before any proposals are made or discussions are held, it is essential that these legal factors are accurately explained to you.

    You will also need professional guidance about compiling an accurate list and valuation for your existing property and assets, which apart from properties, can include such items as superannuation, businesses, cars, furniture and bank accounts.

    Working with a suitably professional and skilled mediator will provide you with the fastest and least expensive way of working through your issues to reach an agreement.

    But you also need to ensure that your mediator is professionally up to the task, understands all the legal steps involved, and can sensibly guide you in relation to your rights and obligations.

    An agreement reached at mediation can be formalised and made legally binding through Consent Orders or a Binding Financial Agreement. The accurate drafting of these documents is important to avoid them later being rejected by a court.

    At Premier Mediation Australia, we are trained experts in assisting with financial mediations and settlements for separating couples. Our Principal also has considerable experience and up-to-date training in commercial, business, accounts, executive, property law and conveyancing matters making him ideally placed to sensibly guide separating couples in these areas.

     We also understand that this can be a complex area with a number of potential conflicts to negotiate. It is therefore not a simplistic process to entrust to lightly-qualified persons or non-professionals.

    Some Of Those We Help In Family Matters

    • Those seeking new parenting arrangements or parenting plans (or amendments to existing plans or orders)
    • People seeking financial/property agreements, irrespective of the size of their asset pools and/or liabilities
    • Those requiring Section 60i Certificates – pursuant to the Family Law Act
    • We can assist those experiencing parenting disputes
    • We can assist those experiencing child support disputes
    • We can assist those looking to improve their communication and relationships moving forward
    • We can assist separated or separating families
    • We can assist married and de facto couples
    • Couples contemplating divorce or separation
    • Blended families
    • Extended families
    • Those in distanced relationships
    • Culturally diverse families
    • Indigenous families
    • Same-sex couples/members of the LGBTIQA community
    • People residing in remote/rural areas
    • Cases involving higher conflict
    • Those with more complex financial issues for settlement – businesses, farms, etc.
    • Grandparents
    • Step-parents
    • Other family members who play a significant role in a child’s life
    • Those impacted by disability or disadvantage
    • Those whose children have exceptional or special educational needs
    • Matters returning from court
    • Self-represented persons
    •  Lawyer-assisted mediations and negotiations

    Additional FDR Services

    Child-Inclusive Mediations and Counselling

    Child-Inclusive Mediation is a voluntary process, during which a specifically-trained Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor meets with the children (school-age and above) to find out directly from them how they are coping with their parents’ separation.

    With the permission of the children, feedback is then provided to the parents, who can gain a greater understanding of what their children are really feeling.

    At Premier Mediation Australia, our Principal is a fully trained Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor, and can advise you about these types of services if they are considered suitable to your personal situation. The Principal has also completed the YCIDS Program – Young Children in Divorce and Separation at Children Beyond Dispute, and can therefore offer clients expertise in this area.

    Learn more about Child-Inclusive Mediation here.

    Collaborative Family Law

    At Premier Mediation Australia,  our Principal is an accredited Collaborative Family Lawyer and Collaborative Divorce Coach, fully satisfying the training practice guidelines for effective case management issued by the Law Council of Australia and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

    Collaborative Family Law empowers couples who are seeking a divorce or separation to focus completely on achieving an out-of-court settlement, via an amicable, team-orientated process.

    Our Principal can help explain to you these processes in further detail, and also outline the many advantages that a collaborative approach can provide.

    To learn more about the Collaborative Family Law approach please click here.

    New Ways For Families: Parenting Without Conflict

    (High Conflict Institute, USA)

    Our Principal is an approved licensed provider for the new Australian version of this invaluable co-parenting program, which is designed to enhance your parenting skills, helping you be the best parent you can be under the circumstances you are in.

    The Family Mediation Process and What To Expect

    Free Consultation/Diagnostic Session

    We offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation for all potential clients, during which we can discuss the circumstances of your particular case and provide guidance about the best ways for you to move forward. Call us today on 0477 130 667.

    Or you can contact us via our email:

    contact@premiermediationaustralia.com.au 

    You can also send through a contact form to Premier Mediation Australia. We will be in touch promptly to discuss your needs and requirements and assist you to achieve the best outcome for your family.

    Hours

    Monday           – By appointment
    Tuesday           – By appointment
    Wednesday     – By appointment
    Thursday         – By appointment
    Friday               – By appointment
    Saturday          – By appointment
    Sunday             – By appointment

    For face-to-face mediations, we have excellent access to numerous private facilities all across Melbourne and Victorian regional areas. Suitable meeting rooms can be arranged depending on client’s needs and convenience.

     All of our on-line services are available both locally and Australia-wide.