Simon Consulting
In the past two decades there has been an enormous amount of research conducted into the emotional and financial consequences of separation and divorce and parents of children. When partners separate, the consequent conflict, personal and interpersonal stresses and distractions affect all members of the family unit.

In recent years much knowledge has been gained about the impact of conflict and trauma on children. Research shows that children of parents with entrenched parental conflict are often negatively affected by the conflict to which they are exposed and often develop emotional and relationship issues in their adult life. Parents who are in conflict are often unable to look beyond their own needs and to seriously consider the needs of their children.

Separating parties are usually required to establish and support two homes, which places a significant financial burden on them both. Parties who engage in litigation are often faced with costly and often prohibitive legal bills and become engaged in an adversarial process which can last anywhere from months to years.

Recent changes in Family Law require separating parties to attempt to reach agreement in regard to their children without going to court. This is achieved mainly through family dispute resolution ("FDR") which is a practical and much cheaper way for separating families to reach agreement. As from 1 July 2008 all parties are required by the Family Law Act to attend family dispute resolution conducted by a registered family dispute resolution provider before they are able to institute court proceedings in regard to their children, or make changes to an existing parenting order. There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as cases involving family violence or child abuse.

The Family Law Regulations also set out numerous reasons why FDR may not be appropriate and it is up to the FDR practitioner to make a professional judgment in that regard. Parties are strongly encouraged to resolve their property matters out of court although this is not mandatory.

FDR offers a much more effective means for parties to resolve their children’s and financial disputes saving themselves time, money and significant stress. Together with the FDR practitioner who is a neutral third party, parties resolve issues that arise as a result of separation using a negotiation process.

FDR aims to assist children by helping families build better relationships and to focus parents on their children’s needs. Parents are assisted and supported by the FDR practitioner to establish effective arrangements for the care of their children, to focus on their children’s needs, to communicate more effectively and to keep their relationship conflict separate. The process is child focused and in some cases child inclusive so that the best interests of the children remain the focus of the dispute resolution. By opting for family dispute resolution parents can spare themselves and their children from the emotional damage litigation can cause.
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Family Dispute Resolution
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