There is a lot more to a separation than going your separate ways, especially when there are children in the mix. A life spent as part of a couple, is a life tightly entwined … emotionally, practically and financially.

When you separate you must forge a path through each area whereby both parties are satisfied and, most importantly, your kids are cared for in the best possible way.It is definitely not easy!

For many ex-couples it can feel impossible to find common ground where they can agree on even the most basics of decisions.

If this is the case for you, then mediation could be the way forward.

In this article we discuss:

  • What is family mediation
  • The benefits of trying mediation
  • A basic guide as to how it works


Family mediation is a process that helps separating couples find common ground and make decisions regarding their separation. This process can be facilitated by a professional mediator, a friend, or family member, or even specialist financial separation accountants in case of property settlement disputes. The main aim is to reach a peaceful and cost-effective resolution that can be approved by the Family Court.

For issues concerning the care of children, an accredited Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) practitioner is required. These are neutral professionals trained to mediate family conflicts, especially those arising from separation. They guide the conversation, ensuring it stays on track and that important issues are prioritised. Their role doesn’t include making decisions or taking sides.

An FDR practitioner is accredited under the standards set out in the Family Law (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners) Regulations 2008.

Outcomes reached as part of mediation, can be used to create your parenting plans and/or consent orders.

Further reading: 8 Good reasons why you should have a parenting plan.


Family mediation offers several benefits:

  • Having a neutral third-party involved in your discussions can keep you focused, ultimately resolving problems faster and more effectively
  • A mediator will encourage both parties to converse responsibility and respectfully so outcomes can be reached without further damage to the relationship
  • Having an opportunity to share personal viewpoints in an impartial space means both parties will feel heard and validated
  • Important decisions can be made in advance during mediation which will pave the way for a successful co-parenting relationship in the future
  • A mediator will support the well-being of your children to be the main focus of any decision-making
  • Most importantly, a successful mediation process can prevent the need for a court hearing, which is often slow, stressful, and costly.


The family mediation process can take different forms. Informal mediation can be as simple as having a conversation at the kitchen table with an impartial friend or family member. For formal mediation, or mediation ordered by the family court, one or more sessions with an FDR practitioner are required.

There is the option of government-funded or private services. As a starting point, head to the Family Dispute Resolution Register.

Depending on your specific circumstances around safety and location, you will have the option for sessions which are:

  • Face-to-face
  • In a separate room to your ex-partner
  • Online video call

These sessions are confidential and cannot be used as evidence in court, allowing both parties to speak freely. If the mediation is unsuccessful, an FDR practitioner can issue a Section 60I certificate, permitting an application to be made to the family court.

Family Relationship Centres offer a range of dispute resolution services, including FDR services. They can provide legal advice and guide separating couples through the mediation process. The goal of each mediation session is to help couples find a resolution that works best for their family.

In conclusion, family mediation is a beneficial process for separating couples. It offers a platform for open communication, decision-making, and resolution, ultimately helping families navigate the complexities of separation in a respectful and constructive manner. 

Further reading: How to choose a lawyer for your family law case.

Posted by Belinda Eldridge
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