Stronger link between family courts and Family Dispute Resolution Service

Stronger link between family courts and Family Dispute Resolution Service

Monday, 3 September 2018

As part of our ongoing commitment to implementing the 35 actions for change from our 2015 Family Law Legal Aid Services Review, we are supporting a mediation presence at court that aims to settle disputes prior to a final hearing.

Our Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) will be present at the Federal Circuit Court in Melbourne from this Monday 3 September, and each Monday until 29 May 2019. The pilot will also roll out to the Shepparton circuit sittings of the Federal Circuit Court from November and continue into early 2019.

The Review identified the need for timely intervention to help prevent disputes from escalating and to progress matters quickly and effectively once they arise. Under Action 18 we committed to conducting a court-based mediation pilot.

Our Associate Director, Family Law, Gayathri Paramasivam said the pilot aims to deliver positive outcomes for families.

‘Families, especially children, will benefit from this pilot which will minimise conflict through the efficient referral to family dispute resolution from court, where this pathway is appropriate.'

Manager of our Family Dispute Resolution Service, Freia Carlton said, ‘By investing in early intervention tools such as mediation for cases in court, we are providing an additional opportunity for proceedings to settle before a final hearing.'

An FDRS case manager will be available at court to provide parties and their representatives with information about the service, including eligibility requirements, and ascertain whether the parties are willing to participate.

In accordance with usual practice, an FDRS conference can proceed if at least one party qualifies for a grant of legal aid, and the matter must be assessed as suitable for family dispute resolution.

A review of the pilot will be conducted in mid-2019.

More information

For lawyers representing clients at FDRS, refer to our Guide for lawyers at Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service (docx, 127.85 KB).

For questions regarding our Family Dispute Resolution Service or the court-based mediation pilot, contact Family Dispute Resolution Service Manager Freia Carlton on

For questions regarding the Family Law Legal Aid Services Review, contact Family Law Review Manager Samantha Watson on


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