Roundtable Dispute Management (RDM)
Roundtable Dispute Management (RDM)
Roundtable Dispute Management (RDM) helps parents and other adult family members involved in family separation or divorce resolve their family disputes.
Disputes can be about:
- parenting arrangements and children’s issues
- division of property (where parents have superannuation or a home mortgage)
- partner maintenance
- adult child maintenance or child support.
The law says that you should usually try to resolve disputes about parenting matters before you go to court.
How RDM works
Family members in dispute (mostly parents, but sometimes other family members, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles) attend an RDM conference to discuss their family disputes and make decisions in the children’s or child’s best interests.
A family dispute resolution practitioner (called a chairperson at RDM) runs the conference and each parent usually has a lawyer to help them make decisions and to provide legal advice.
The format of a conference can vary. Sometimes the conference is around a table, with everyone in the same room. This is called a joint conference.
Sometimes a conference is held with each party being in a separate room. This is called a shuttle conference.
Sometimes a conference is over the phone, called a teleconference. Teleconferences can be:
- where all parties are connected on the phone at the same time and can hear and talk to each other directly – called a joint teleconference.
- where you don’t have to hear or speak to the other party – called a shuttle teleconference.
How RDM can help
RDM can help by saving you time and costly court action. You can also have more say in the decisions that affect you and your children than if you go to court.
We can help you:
- make decisions that support your children’s needs
- develop a parenting plan or court order which sets out arrangements for the care of your children sort out related financial issues
- improve family communication and co-operation
- reach solutions that work for you.
To use RDM, at least one parent must have a grant of legal assistance from Victoria Legal Aid and the lawyer holding the grant must apply for RDM. See Get a lawyer to run your case.
A case manager will work out if RDM is suitable for you and the other person in dispute, by speaking to each of you privately and separately before having an RDM conference. The case manager will assess and decide what the most appropriate format and venue for your RDM conference is.
When you’re invited to RDM
If you’ve been invited to participate in RDM you’ll receive a brochure about RDM, fact sheets for separating families and other information published by the Australian Government on family dispute resolution and parenting plans.
RDM is not like going to court but it’s still a good idea to have a lawyer to help with decisions and for legal advice.
If you can't afford a lawyer, you can apply for a grant of legal assistance to get a lawyer to run your case.
RDM is free. However, you may have to pay for your lawyer’s fees if you do not have a grant of legal assistance. You can use RDM without a lawyer, but we recommend getting legal advice. We can also help you find a lawyer.
All decisions are focused on your children's needs. However, children can't attend the conference and RDM doesn't provide childcare.
In some cases, where a case manager assesses it as suitable and if everyone agrees, RDM can arrange for children to speak to a qualified child consultant, through RDM’s Kid's Talk program. This would occur before your RDM conference and you would be provided with feedback.
Speak to an RDM case manager and your lawyer for more information about Kid’s Talk.
Any information you give to RDM is confidential and can't be used in court. It is a serious offence to disclose confidential information and penalties apply.
This rule does not apply where RDM:
- reasonably believes that a child has been or is being abused or is at risk of being abused
- there is a risk of harm to any person involved or to their property
- a crime involving violence or threats of violence may be prevented.
The law also says that parties to a conference must not give any information, which a party may have heard or received during, or in connection with your RDM conference, to any other person or body including a court.
There are circumstances when this rule doesn’t apply, such as when disclosure is necessary to prevent or minimise the danger of injury of a person.
RDM takes client safety very seriously. Case managers are trained to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment with every case. If safety is an issue, the case manager can:
- develop individual safety plans with clients who are concerned about their safety. This can include setting up staggered arrival and departure times. The other party will not be informed about the safety plan
- arrange for clients who are concerned about their safety to have no direct contact with the other party. Each party can be in separate rooms, or even in separate buildings. We can also arrange a telephone conference from your lawyer’s office or from your home
- arrange for clients who are concerned about their safety to be supported by an appropriate support person, such as their family violence worker or counselor or a supportive and sensible friend or family member.
Please tell us if you are worried about your safety.
You can attend a conference at many locations in metropolitan and rural Victoria, including many of our offices. If we don't have a location near you we can also arrange a telephone conference from anywhere in Australia.