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Family dispute resolution means trying to reach an agreement about your family law problems without going to Court.

Family dispute resolution services can be used to resolve disputes about:

  • children and property.
  • dividing your property.
  • spousal maintenance.
  • child support.

Before an application is made to a Court for parenting Orders you will usually have to try family dispute resolution.


What is family dispute resolution?

Family dispute resolution is a way of resolving your family law problems without going to Court. The term ‘dispute resolution’ describes different ways people try to come to an agreement, including:

  • negotiation.
  • counselling.
  • conciliation.
  • mediation.
  • arbitration.

Family dispute resolution services are available at any time in your relationship, including before, during or after a separation or once a Court case has begun.

It can be done informally by using family members or other relevant people in the community to help you resolve your dispute, or formally with the help of an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner. Family dispute resolution practitioners are independent, accredited professionals who are trained to help people sort through their problems and try to reach agreement.

Family dispute resolution may not always be confidential. You should always check.


Family and domestic violence

Certain conditions must be met before a family dispute resolution service can take on cases involving family or domestic violence. Intake processes must be completed for the service provider to determine if your matter is appropriate to proceed through their service. Different services have different intake processes and format options. If you are concerned about your safety at the conference, speak to the service about what formats they offer for the conference.



If you want to apply to Court for parenting Orders, you will usually have to try family dispute resolution first.

A Family Relationship Centre, Legal Aid Queensland or another family dispute resolution service may be able to help you resolve any disputes about family arrangements.

Before applying to a Court you should try and reach an agreement through family dispute resolution. You must include a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner with your Court application saying that you’ve been to, or attempted to go to, family dispute resolution, or that it’s their opinion that it’s not appropriate for you to go.

A certificate is valid for 12 months from the family dispute resolution date.

You may be able to apply directly to the Court without a certificate if:

  • there has been family violence.
  • there has been child abuse.
  • your situation is urgent.

Going to family dispute resolution doesn’t mean you have to come to an agreement—you shouldn’t be forced to sign an agreement.

If you reach an agreement you can make it legally enforceable by applying to the Court for consent Orders.


Property and financial issues

You can try and use family dispute resolution to resolve financial issues such as property settlement, spousal maintenance or child support.

If you want Court Orders about property, the Court may get you to try family dispute resolution. Get legal advice before entering into a financial agreement.


What if the other person refuses to go?

Family dispute resolution will not work unless each person involved agrees to go. If one person refuses to go, you may need to apply to Court to resolve your dispute.

You’ll need to explain to the Court that you’ve asked for family dispute resolution, but the other person refused.


What if family dispute resolution is unsuccessful?

If you have tried family dispute resolution and couldn’t reach an agreement, you may need to apply to Court to resolve the dispute.



Family dispute resolution costs will depend on the service. Some services are free. Others charge different rates depending on your financial situation. Contact the service to find out how much they charge.


Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if:

  • you or your children are experiencing family or domestic violence or are at risk of harm.
  • you’re going to attend family dispute resolution (so you are aware of your rights and responsibilities).
  • you’re concerned about your safety (when attending family dispute resolution).
  • your children haven’t been returned from a visit with the other parent or person.
  • you believe your ex-partner may sell, lose or destroy property you have an interest in.
  • the other person refuses to participate, or their behaviour during family dispute resolution may be affected by mental illness or a drug or alcohol problem.


Disclaimer: The material presented on this website is an information source only. The information on this website is written for people resident in, or affected by the laws of Queensland, Australia only. Links to other sites from this website are provided for the users’ convenience. The LGBTI Legal Service does not endorse these sites and is not responsible for the information on these sites or the use made of this information. If you have a specific legal problem, you should consult a professional legal advisor.

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