Termination of Family Dispute Resolution Sessions

Things that a practitioner needs to consider before & during mediation

First and foremost is safety followed closely by each party's willingness to mediate. So who is suitable for mediation and who isn't?



Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) sessions may be terminated when the mediator is of the opinion that further efforts at mediation are unlikely to resolve the dispute. Mediation should not be a long process and if the parties involved are not  looking like reaching agreements after a few sessions, then mediation may not be the best option for you. In this circumstance, the mediator may issue you with a Certificate 60i, that will enable you to have your matter resolved through lawyers and the courts. 


Mental health issues  

FDR sessions may be terminated if the mediator deems a client is not of sound mind and is therefore unable to make good decisions and/or able to sign legal documents. In terminating the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) sessions, the mediator can refer the client to get assessed, and if that person is the primary carer of the children make short term arrangements that will ensure the children are properly cared for. If the children's welfare remains a concern, the mediator is mandated to notify the Department of Human Services.



FDR sessions may be deemed no longer suitable if the mediator discovers that one party is using the information acquired from FDR for personal gain or to the detriment of the other party. In this situation the mediator will explain why mediation needs to be terminated, that there has been a breach of confidentiality, and suggest that both parties seek independent legal advice.



If one party (including children) feels unsafe during the mediation process or outside and between sessions, and/or the mediator assesses that one party is unable to speak freely for fear of the consequences by the other party, the mediator needs to terminate mediation. The mediator will work with the victim on ways to ensure the victims safety, including the safety of the children. An appropriate Certificate 60I will be issued deeming the couple unsuitable for mediation and suggesting both parties seek independent legal advice.


Hidden agendas  

FDR needs to be terminated if one client tells the mediator 'in confidence' something that is concerning and could negatively impact on the other party or their children unless disclosed, such as child abuse. A disclosure such as this will most often occur in a private session. Once a matter like this is disclosed the mediator needs to terminate the session in a way that ensures everyone's safety and the practitioner needs to take appropriate action. Once the full story is established, the mediator will decide whether or not mediation is appropriate. If not, then the mediator will remind both parties that they should seek independent legal advice.



FDR sessions with a particular practitioner needs to reconsidered when that mediator is in a position where they are unable to remain impartial or nonjudgemental due to their own personal circumstance and/or the client expresses that the mediator is acting unfairly or biased towards them. Mediators on the whole are professionals who are trained to deal with clients in an impartial manner. However if you are unhappy with the practitioner, firstly discuss this with the practitioner to see if the matter can be resolved. In most cases this issue can be resolved by letting the practitioner know that you feel unfairly treated. If you are still unhappy with the practitioner and want the matter resolved by an independent source, the practitioner needs to tell you what options are available to you (a disputes mechanism).


Legal Advice

If either party seeks legal advice and initiates legal proceedings in respect to what is being mediated, mediation must be terminated.