Family Dispute Resolution & Family Violence Information

Family Law Act 1975 – Section 60J
A person does not need to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before making an application to the court about a child in a number of circumstances including where there has been family violence, child abuse or risk of family violence or child abuse.


In determining whether a dispute is appropriate for FDR, the FDR practitioner must take into account whether the ability of any party to negotiate freely is affected by a number of factors, all of which are potentially relevant to cases of violence. These include:

  • Any history of family violence among the parties;
  • The likely safety of the parties;
  • The equality of bargaining power among the parties;
  • The risk that a child may suffer abuse;
  • The emotional, psychological and physical health of the parties;
  • Or any other relevant matter.


The FDR Regulations also require that an FDR practitioner must be satisfied of the appropriateness of FDR in each case before providing FDR. An FDR practitioner is also obliged to terminate FDR if the practitioner is no longer satisfied it is appropriate, or is requested to do so by a party.


The framework in s 60I applies only to parenting orders. In relation to applications for financial disputes, the requirements are set out in the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth). Consistently with s 60I, the Rules include mechanisms for removing obligations to participate in FDR in cases of family violence.


A key element of FDR in practice is the process of screening and risk assessment which is designed to ensure that victims of family violence are not using FDR in inappropriate circumstances, or to identify and mitigate any risk factors where FDR may be appropriate despite such risks.


What are the exceptions to providing a certificate?

Under section 60I(9) of the Act, you can seek an exemption from providing a certificate in the following circumstances:

  • If your matter is urgent.
  • if the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that:
    • There has been child abuse and/or family violence by a party.
    • There is a risk of family violence by a party, and/or
    • There is a risk of child abuse if there were to be a delay in applying to the Court.
  • Where a party is unable to participate effectively in family dispute resolution (for example, due to an incapacity to do so or physical remoteness from a family dispute resolution provider).
  • If your application relates to an alleged contravention of an existing order that was made within the last 12 months, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person who has allegedly contravened the order has behaved in a way that shows a serious disregard for his or her obligations under that order.