a de facto relationship by the family law act is defined as a relationship between two people not married
Section 60I of the Family Law Act provides for mandatory Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) when applying for a parenting order. Said law provides that this requirement applies whether in a marriage or a de facto relationship. A de facto relationship by the Family Law Act (Section 4AA) is defined as a relationship between two people not married or related as family living together on a genuine domestic basis.
In the heat of a troubled relationship and the separation that follows the advantage of FDR is easily overlooked. Many angry and vengeful couples disregard dispute resolution and would rather go immediately to courts for legal action. This should not be the case.
While the FDR is a condition precedent before filing a case in court for a parenting order, a de facto couple must treat it as a better alternative than going to court in resolving their issues. First, it does away with the emotional distress of a legal action. Second, expensive court fees are avoided. Third, the parties can control the solutions and make them flexible according to their needs. Lastly and most importantly, family relations are preserved which is very crucial when a child is involved.
There are, however, exceptions to the requirement for a dispute resolution. When the matter is urgent, or there is a risk of abuse or violence in the family, a party is exempted from complying with the dispute resolution. The fact that the few exceptions pertain to grave matters underscores the intent of the law for the parties to settle their affairs outside of the court.
An FDR practitioner can guide the de facto couple in the process of mediation, negotiation and conciliation. In the mediation process, the practitioner helps the couple in identifying the issues and possible solutions. Together the couple will discuss what problems need to be addressed and what are the alternatives or options for either of them.
Next is the negotiation process which is actually the difficult part in the FDR. This is when the parties will consider the solutions and see if they will work. If not, the parties will bargain for a better or easier solution, one that is within their capabilities to provide.
The last step is conciliation wherein the couple wind down the negotiation process and resolve the issues once and for all. Parties are expected to end their negotiation amicably and in a conciliatory manner, thus, saving them both additional heartaches.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.