Understanding Family Mediation: A Key Pillar of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Segal Conflict Solutions

In today’s blog post, I will delve into family mediation and explore how it functions as a crucial component of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). As the Director of Segal Conflict Solutions and a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), I have over ten years of extensive experience in family mediation. I will provide insights into its significance and operation. This article will examine how family mediation works, its benefits, and its role as a core pillar of alternative dispute resolution.

I.What is Family Mediation?

Family mediation is one of the alternative dispute methods. It is a process in which a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists families in resolving conflicts and disputes amicably. It is often employed during divorce or separation proceedings, child custody disputes, and other family-related conflicts. The mediator facilitates communication, encourages productive dialogue, and helps parties reach mutually acceptable agreements.

II. How Does Family Mediation Work?

Initial Consultation: The process typically begins with an initial consultation (called a pre-mediation or intake session), during which the mediator meets with each party separately to understand their perspective, concerns, and desired outcomes. This individual session allows the mediator to assess the suitability of mediation and address any initial questions or concerns.

Joint Sessions: Joint sessions are scheduled once both parties agree to proceed with mediation. The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, creating a safe and respectful environment for constructive communication.

Identifying Issues and Interests: During joint sessions, the mediator helps identify the key issues at hand and encourages participants to express their concerns, interests, and priorities. This step ensures that all perspectives are heard and understood, fostering empathy and enabling the exploration of creative solutions.

Generating Options: With a clear understanding of the underlying issues, the mediator guides the parties in generating potential solutions. By exploring various options, brainstorming alternatives, and considering the family’s unique circumstances, the mediator helps expand the range of possibilities and encourages collaborative problem-solving.

Reaching Agreements: As the discussions progress, the mediator assists in structuring mutually acceptable agreements for all parties involved. These agreements may cover areas such as parenting arrangements, financial matters, property division, and other specific concerns. The mediator ensures that the agreements are fair, balanced, and legally sound but does not provide legal advice.

III. The Role of a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP):

As an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), I am qualified to provide family mediation services and issue Section 60I certificates if mediation is unsuccessful. Section 60I of the Family Law Act 1975 in Australia requires parties involved in parenting disputes to attempt family dispute resolution before commencing court proceedings. If mediation does not result in a resolution, I can issue Section 60I certificates, allowing parties to file their case in court.

IV. The Benefits of Family Mediation:

Family mediation offers numerous advantages over traditional litigation or adversarial approaches to dispute resolution. Some notable benefits include:

  1. Preserving Relationships: Mediation prioritises open communication and cooperative decision-making, fostering a more positive and respectful environment. It allows families to maintain better relationships, particularly when ongoing co-parenting or future interactions are involved.
  2. Empowering Parties: Family mediation empowers parties to actively participate in finding solutions that meet their unique needs and interests. It gives individuals a direct say in the outcome and promotes a sense of ownership over the agreements reached.
  3. Confidentiality and Privacy: Unlike court proceedings, family mediation maintains confidentiality, ensuring that sensitive information and personal matters remain private. This aspect is especially valuable when discussing children’s well-being or financial issues.
  4. Cost-Effectiveness: Mediation is generally more cost-effective than litigation. It reduces legal fees, court costs, and the overall length of the dispute resolution process, providing families with financial savings.


Family mediation, facilitated by an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), is valuable for resolving family conflicts and disputes through constructive dialogue and mutual agreement. It plays a pivotal role in the realm of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), offering benefits such as relationship preservation, empowerment of parties, confidentiality, and cost-effectiveness. By considering family mediation as an option, individuals can navigate challenging situations with greater cooperation and achieve outcomes by prioritising their family’s best interests.