Family dispute resolution

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See more resources on Family dispute resolution in the AIFS library catalogue

Submission to the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System

Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australia. Parliament. Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2020.
This is the submission from the Australian Institute of Family Studies to the Joint Select Committee on Australia's Family Law System. The Committee was established in 2019 to investigate a range of issues associated with the appropriateness, effectiveness and impacts of the family law system, following on from the 2018 review. This submission highlights findings from the Institute's work that relate to the Committee's terms of reference, including: interaction and information-sharing between systems and jurisdictions, court powers in relation to the provision of evidence, court reform: capacity to deal with complex issues, legal costs in property matters, family law support services and family dispute resolution (FDR), family law impacts on children and families, grandparent carers, improving performance of family law system professionals, family law and child support systems: interactions, and pre-nuptial agreements. Together, the work of the Institute demonstrates the need for a system that: is trauma-informed and child-inclusive, provides effective client support and dispute resolution services, and is delivered by family law professionals with the skills to secure the safety and best interests of children and their families.

A situated ethical analysis of child inclusive practices in five Relationships Australia NSW Family Relationship Centres

Wheeler A
2019.
"This thesis explores the child inclusive practices in high conflict post-separation family dispute resolution (FDR) of five Family Relationship Centres, managed by Relationships Australia New South Wales (RANSW). This thesis develops a situated ethical framework for child inclusion informed by a feminist ethics of care, and proposes good practice principles towards the development of meaningfully inclusive processes. Child inclusive practice (CIP) is a model of post-separation FDR that was developed in Australia in the early 2000s that involves direct consultation with children to inform parenting agreements. Following significant reforms to the Australian Family Law Act (1975) in 2006, the Federal Government established a national network of 65 Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) to provide affordable FDR, managed by existing non-government organisations. FRC practitioners, who were drawn from a wide range of backgrounds, were trained and encouraged to use CIP. However, there was very little guidance given in legislation, professional frameworks or broader FRC policy regarding the implementation of CIP. As a result, organisations were under no compulsion to include children in FDR, and a wide range of practice approaches developed. This qualitative, empirical study explores FRC practitioners' approaches to child inclusive practice, within a single case study organisation (RANSW). A total of 27 participants across multiple organisational roles engaged in in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Constructivist grounded theory was utilised in data analysis, revealing the 'hidden ethical voice' of practitioners, uncovering three very different ethical orientations towards child inclusion. In the absence of organisational criteria, practitioners had developed their own decision-making frameworks for screening cases into CIP. However, findings show these criteria were inconsistently applied and highly dependent on the individual workers' ethical orientation towards CIP. Theories of professional social care ethics are applied to demonstrate how a dual emphasis on care and social justice, within the exercise of critical reflexivity, provides a helpful path towards 'good practice'."--Author abstract.

Annual review 2018.

Western Australia. Family Court
Perth, WA : Family Court of Western Australia, 2019.
This annual report provides information on the activities and workload of the Family Court of Western Australia for the year 2018 calendar year. Topics include: judiciary and staffing, divorce applications, parenting and financial orders, self-representation, clearance rate and finalisation time, appeals, The Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Service (FCCCS), Case Assessment Conference (CAC), court services, and committees. 2018 saw the highest number of final order applications (3,112) and interim applications (5,341) filed in the Court in the last decade, with a significant impact on the Court's workload and clearance rates. 5,408 divorce applications were also received in this period.

Universal risk screening in relationships counselling to enhance client engagement and promote safety and wellbeing.

Lee J and McIntosh J
Peer-reviewed papers from the FRSA 2019 National Conference : new horizons - building the future, paving the way. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2019: 52-59
This paper describes a new tool used to screen clients in relationship counselling or Family Dispute Resolution services, to help identify risk of harm. Relationships Australia (South Australia) is using Family DOORS, adapted from the Family Law DOORS framework developed for legal practitioners. The paper highlights the importance of universal risk screening in post-separation settings and describes how the tool works in practice, then discusses findings from the first 675 clients screened using Family DOORS. The assessment identified high levels of past abuse and current risks of violence, as well as other concerns such as risky alcohol or drug use, parenting stress, child protection notifications about their children, and current suicidal thoughts. The findings highlight that universal screening should be seen as essential in counselling services just as it is in post-separation FDR services.

Extending psychosocial support for separated parents : embedding family counsellor pathway into family relationship centres.

Gibson C
Peer-reviewed papers from the FRSA 2019 National Conference : new horizons - building the future, paving the way. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2019: 42-51
This paper describes how one family relationship centre developed an additional family dispute resolution pathway to provide specialised emotional support for parents. Interrelate Newcastle had found many clients were failing to resolve their separation-related disputes and so designed a new service stream to enable parents to arrive at an emotionally available place where they were able to negotiate from a child focused platform and develop a workable coparenting plan. The new FDR pathway involved embedding a specialist Family Counsellor trained child consultant into the centre who would work alongside parents individually whilst heading towards mediation. This paper discusses the development of the new approach, the importance of child inclusive therapy and promoting the best interests of the child, the underlying trauma informed bottom up approach, how the new pathway operates in practice, and evaluation findings from a study of a small sample of clients.

It is time to abolish the 'genuine effort' and 'non-genuine effort' certificates in family dispute resolution.

Taylor J
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 1 Jun 2019: 29-50
Family law in Australia requires separating couples to attempt mediation before they can go to court, with a family dispute resolution certifying whether the couple made a genuine attempt to resolve their dispute or not. This article reviews this process and raises concerns over issues of impartiality, coercion, confidentiality, and defining 'genuine' effort. It argues that though the requirement of mandatory family dispute resolution should remain, certificates of effort should be abolished as being inherently unworkable, unfair and reductive.

The intersection of family violence and family dispute resolution : implications for evidence gathering and mediation confidentiality.

Harman J
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 1 Jun 2019: 1-28
This article investigates whether parents in parenting cases involving family violence are attending family dispute resolution services, providing insights into the sources from which family violence evidence can be gathered and whether concerns over confidentiality are warranted. It analyses 414 cases heard before a Federal Circuit Court judge in New South Wales over 3 months, comparing whether the parties had attended family dispute resolution or obtained an exception, whether a notice of risk regarding an allegation of family violence had been filed, and whether a family violence order had been made. The article discusses attendance rates, candour in disclosure, engagement with other service, such as the police, health services or counselling, and confidentiality. The data indicate that parties with family violence allegations rarely attend family dispute resolution, and that most of those who do have already disclosed the allegations to another service.

Parenting arrangements after separation: evidence summary

Australian Institute of Family Studies
Southbank, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2019.
Over the past 10 years, the Australian Institute of Family Studies has conducted several large-scale studies involving nationally representative samples of separated parents. This paper highlights the findings relating to parenting arrangements after separation. It provides information on the most common parenting arrangements after separation, how common it is for parents to go to court, and what court orders are made for custody. There is considerable variation in the ways that families arrange their children's care after separation, with issues such as the children's age and the parents' working patterns playing a significant role in decision making. Most parents (97%) don't go to court to make these arrangements: they decide matters between themselves, and only about 6% consult lawyers to help them make arrangements. Many of cases that do go to court often involve complex issues such as family violence or mental health issues.

Strengthening the family justice system: a consultation document released by the independent panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, this paper outlines suggestions for possible change and invites feedback from the community. This is a second community consultation, following on from an initial consultation in 2018 that asked for feedback on what was working well and what wasn't. The review panel considers that the Family Court and related services should work in a joined-up way that is accessible and responsive to families' different needs, and presents suggested reforms relating to child safety, accessible information, counselling and therapeutic intervention, the Parenting Through Separation service, Family Dispute Resolution, legal advice and representation, Without Notice applications, triaging, complex cases, a Family Justice Service Coordinator role, a new Senior Family Court Registrar role, the Lawyer for Child, psychological reports, and costs.

Te korowai ture a-whanau: summary of submissions on the Panel's second consultation paper : Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, two rounds of public consultation were held aimed at identifying what's been working well and what hasn't. This paper summarises the themes raised in the second round of consultations, which sought feedback on some early proposals for reform made by the review. 138 submissions and meetings were made, regarding such matters as child safety, accessible information, counselling and therapeutic intervention, the Parenting Through Separation service, Family Dispute Resolution, legal advice and representation, Without Notice applications, triaging, complex cases, Family Justice Service Coordinator, Senior Family Court Registrar, Lawyer for Child, psychological reports, and costs.

Submissions summary: Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, two rounds of public consultation were held aimed at identifying what's been working well and what hasn't. This paper summarises the themes raised in the first round of consultations, held from September to October 2018. 510 submissions were received, including from small group meetings, involving parents, children, extended family, court staff, and related professionals. The report outlines common themes, sets out the feedback from submitters on specific family justice processes, and summarises submissions from key demographic groups. Consistently raised issues include the heavy impact of using the family justice system, the delays and barriers, and the increasingly complexity of disputes - helping to highlight the key elements of a better justice system.

A qualitative study on behalf of the Independent Panel examining the 2014 family justice system reforms

UMR Research Limited, New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A review is underway into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. This qualitative study was commissioned to help inform the review. It investigates families' experiences of the post-2014 services, with the aim of identifying what is working well and what could be improved and any unintended consequences of the reforms. A particular focus was the views of children and young people, Maori parents, Pasifika parents, and parents with disabilities. Interviews were conducted with 34 with parents and 13 young people. The main report presents the findings, key insights, and recommendations of the study; the appendix features methodological information and additional findings relating to specific professionals, namely the Lawyer for Child, counsellors, psychologists, judges, and mediators. Overall, both parents and children found the family justice system to be arduous, confusing, disempowering, and intimidating - highlighting areas for reform.

Te korowai ture a-whanau: the final report of the independent panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

Noonan R, King L and Dellabarca C
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2019.
A suite of reforms was implemented in the family justice in New Zealand in 2014 that aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes. This report presents the findings and recommendations of an independent panel established to evaluate these reforms, focusing in particular on changes to services that help with care of child disputes, including the Family Court, the Family Dispute Resolution service, Parenting Through Separation (PTS) parenting courses and counselling. The panel investigated: the effectiveness of out of court services; the effectiveness of Family Court processes, particularly given the significant increase in the number of urgent/without notice applications; the roles of the professionals, including children's lawyers, family dispute resolution providers and psychologists; and whether the system as a whole is producing outcomes that are upholding the welfare and best interests of children. The panel concludes that elements of the 2014 reforms must be changed to strengthen and integrate the system, and proposes the development of a joined-up family justice service, to be called Te Korowai Ture a-Whanau. Background research, including qualitative interviews with parents and summaries of consultations, have also been published.

The family law system : the data.

Australian Law Reform Commission
Family law for the future - an inquiry into the family law system. Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019: 79-110
This chapter presents a statistical overview of the work of the family court system. It collates various data sources on the number and characteristics of families that enter the family law system and how their cases are resolved. Data is provided on: case load, family dispute resolution, matters filed in the courts, matters that resolve at trial, attrition, participants in the family law system, decision makers, provision of legal services, court services, family law support services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, court delay, family violence and abuse, notices of risk, and Magellan matters. Most families that separate resolve their disputes without recourse to the family law system: up to 70% of separating families work out their own parenting arrangements and up to 40% settle the division of their property through discussion. Furthermore, the vast majority of matters that enter the family law system will settle before judgment.

Australian master family law guide.

CCH Australia Limited
Sydney, NSW : CCH Australia, 2019.
Written for lawyers, counsellors, finance industry professionals, and students, this reference guide explains legislation, relevant case law, and legal procedures in Australian family law. Sections include: children; property; financial agreements; financial support for children; de facto relationships; and court processes, evidence and costs - all updated to reflect amendments and case law interpretations since the 2017 edition. Chapters include: Commonwealth, states, family law legislation and courts; Legal practice matters: client interview and drafting affidavits; Divorce; Shared parental responsibility; Dispute resolution and family relationship centres; Parenting orders, plans and guidelines; Principles the court must consider when conducting child-related proceedings; Major long-term issues (including paternity testing, changing a child's name, and relocation); Child abduction; Order enforcement and non-compliance in children's cases; Children and relationship factors (including drug use, family violence and child abuse, parental alienation syndrome); Surrogacy; Property; Maintenance; Bankruptcy and third parties; Corporations and trusts; Taxation considerations; Property orders; Superannuation; Financial agreements; Child support and maintenance; De facto relationships; Evidence; Court procedure; and Costs.

Framework for providing culturally secure and safe family dispute resolution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients at Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service

Victoria Legal Aid. Family Dispute Resolution Service
Melbourne, Vic. : Victoria Legal Aid, 2019.
The Family Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS) of Victoria Legal Aid has developed a framework for providing culturally secure and safe family dispute resolution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. This document sets out the purpose of the framework and its five key focus areas. It also notes the consultation process used to the framework and how it will be evaluated. It is hoped this framework will help encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to use FDRS service to resolve their family law disputes.

Speaking out about family separation: the views of children and young people with experience of separation and the family law system in WA

Western Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, 2019.
This paper presents the views of children and young people in Western Australia on what they found helpful during family separation and any ideas they have to improve the experience. Consultations were held with 12 young people aged 12-20 years old, regarding the support young people received from family and friends during and after their parents' separation; the efficacy and quality of support provided by family law and other professionals; what was particularly helpful or challenging throughout the process; and the various consultation mechanisms that were offered. The paper discusses family law and family courts in Western Australia, issues raised by families during separation, and Australian research on the participation of children in matters affecting them, then outlines the themes raised by the young people during the consultations. This paper was prepared as a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission's current review into the family law system, and the paper concludes by considering the findings in light of the issues raised by the review. Children and young people have a right to be listened to and to contribute to decision-making in families, and the ALRC review is a positive opportunity to ensure these rights are recognised and acted upon.

The centrality of the 'family dispute resolution' process to the separating family, the community and the administration of justice.

Harman J
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 8-23
This is an edited version of a speech given by Family Circuit Court Judge Harman at the 2018 Family and Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) Conference. Judge Harman highlights the important role of facilitative dispute resolution in providing an alternative to the adversarial litigation processes of the courts, and considers the extent to which this is being achieved and supported by the family law system. Judge Harman argues that strengthening and preserving families and co-parenting relationships is too important to allow the benefits of family dispute resolution to be other than fully achieved. The right of children to grow up in a living and understanding atmosphere, and the role of alternative dispute in complementing and alleviating the work of the courts, is also discussed.

Family law for the future - an inquiry into the family law system: summary report

Australian Law Reform Commission
Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019.
This paper summarises the findings and recommendations of the landmark review of the family law system in Australia. The review was commissioned in 2017 by the Attorney-General to ensure that the family law system meets the contemporary needs of families and effectively addresses family violence and child abuse. It discusses the case for reform, terms of reference, and overarching principles and provides an overview of the separate sections of the full report. Proposals include a comprehensive redraft of the Family Law Act, the requirement that parties take genuine steps to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing an application, considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's connection to culture and country when making decisions, and handing control over the family law system to the states and territories, with the aim of improving the handling of domestic violence and child protection cases.

Family law for the future - an inquiry into the family law system

Australian Law Reform Commission
Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2019.
In 2017, the Attorney-General asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to conduct the first comprehensive review into the family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976, with a view to making necessary reforms to ensure the family law system meets the contemporary needs of families and effectively addresses family violence and child abuse. This report presents the findings and recommendations of this review. The terms of reference asked the review to consider whether, and if so what, reforms to the family law system are necessary or desirable, in particular regarding the protection of vulnerable parties, improving dispute resolution processes, enhancing the integrity of the family law system, and family law services and professionals. The review identified structural and systemic difficulties within the current family law system, in part created by impenetrable legislation, under-resourcing, and the bifurcated legislative regimes that deal with different aspects of matters that impact on families. Rather than presenting a single bold new initiative to address these issues, the review makes 60 recommendations for reform addressing all aspects of the system. Proposals include a comprehensive redraft of the Family Law Act, the requirement that parties take genuine steps to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing an application, considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children's connection to culture and country when making decisions, and handing control over the family law system to the states and territories, with the aim of improving the handling of domestic violence and child protection cases.

Family dispute resolution : use, timing, and outcomes.

Qu L
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy v. 40 no. 1 Mar 2019: 24-42
A key initiative of the 2006 Australian family law reforms is that most separating parents who have difficulty resolving disputes about parenting arrangements are now required to undertake Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). Parents who cannot reach an agreement through FDR or who meet certain exceptions may have their dispute handled by a court. This article investigates the use and outcomes of FDR, comparing the characteristics and circumstances of parents who used or who did not use FDR. It also investigates the impact of the timing of when FDR was undertaken after separation. Data is taken from three national studies of separated parents: the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (LSSF), conducted in late 2008 and two cohorts from the Survey of Recently Separated Parents, conducted in late 2012 and late 2014. The finding indicate an increasing take-up of FDR among separated parents, and more positive outcomes and reaching agreement. However, the findings also show that more disadvantaged people are less likely to make use of FDR.

Have your say on the family justice system: a consultation document released by the independent panel examining the 2014 family justice reforms.

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2018
A review has commenced into the impact of the 2014 reforms to the family justice system in New Zealand. Those reforms aimed to shift the emphasis away from in-court to out-of-court processes and improve the services and processes available to separating parents for resolving disputes about care. As part of the review, this paper invites feedback from families who have used the new system, regarding how it has affected their family and what is working well and what isn't. The paper explains the changes and presents questions for consideration, regarding overall experiences, out-of-court processes including Family Dispute Resolution and the Parenting Through Separation service, in-court reforms such as of changes to how children's safety is assessed and removing lawyers from the early stages of cases, and the role of professionals, such as through the Lawyer for Child, specialist reports, and counsellors.

Annual review 2017.

Western Australia. Family Court
Perth, WA : Family Court of Western Australia, 2018.
This annual report provides information on the activities and workload of the Family Court of Western Australia for the year 2017 calendar year. Topics include: judiciary and staffing, divorce applications, parenting and financial orders, self-representation, clearance rate and finalisation time, appeals, The Family Court Counselling and Consultancy Service (FCCCS), Case Assessment Conference (CAC), court services, and committees. During 2017, the Court received 5,341 divorce applications - with 60.2% filed electronically, up from 33.5% in 2016. Though parties are required to undertake a Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process prior to commencing parenting proceedings, this occurred in only about 15% of cases, with other cases obtaining an exemption.

What children and young people think should happen when families separate

South Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Commissioner for Children and Young People, 2018.
This paper presents the views of children and young people in South Australia on how they want to be supported when their parents separate and how the legal system could ensure their voices are heard. Consultation sessions were held with 20 children and young people aged from 7-22 years old, with and without a lived experience of the family law system. Participants discussed what they would like from the time their parents separate to after the family law process officially concludes, including when they wish to learn about the separation, legal professionals and court processes, child advocates, and child inclusive mediation. The paper shares their views then considers best practice and how the system could respond better. This paper was prepared as a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission's current review into the family law system.

Review of the family law system

Australian Law Reform Commission
Sydney, NSW : Australian Law Reform Commission, 2018.
In August 2017, the Attorney-General asked the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the family law system. Following on from an issues paper, this discussion paper invites public submissions regarding 33 questions for consideration and 124 proposals for reform. Topics include: improving public understanding of the family law system, simplifying family law legislation, addressing service fragmentation, Families Hubs, expansion of the Family Advocacy and Support Service, expanding the availability of family dispute resolution, triage and risk assessment, co-location of courts, addressing concerns about adversarial processes, court safety and accessibility, integrated support services for children, supporting children's participation and right to be heard, misuse of systems and processes as family violence, management of unmeritorious proceedings, workforce capability plan, FDR practitioners and property matters, family violence training, Children's Contact Services, judicial appointments, reports in children's matters, professional wellbeing, iInformation sharing across systems, a new oversight body, privacy provisions, and definitions of family members.

Give children a bigger voice more of the time : children's and young people's experiences of the family law system.

Carson R and Williams N
27 Sep 2018
This webinar will discuss recent research on young people's experiences of the family law system and its implications for child-inclusive practice. A recent study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies has highlighted the importance of listening to and supporting children and young people throughout the process of parental separation and their involvement in the family law system. Many children and young people who participated in the study reported a lack of communication from parents and family law services about the separation and the decision-making process, and reported feeling excluded from decisions that affected them, particularly in relation to parenting arrangements. The study findings highlight a need for more child-inclusive processes across the family law system. This webinar will present findings from this 'Children and young people in separated families' study and discuss implications for policy and practice, with a focus on developing child-inclusive practices in the area of family dispute resolution and the family law system more generally.

Family justice reforms: an initial cohort analysis

New Zealand. Ministry of Justice
Wellington, N.Z. : Ministry of Justice, 2018
In 2014, major reforms were made to the Family Justice System in New Zealand, shifting the focus from adversarial court resolution of parenting disputes to encouraging parents to reach agreement themselves where this is appropriate. The main change of the reforms was a portfolio of services to resolve disputes that families could access without entering into the court system, known as out-of-court services, which included Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), the Parenting Through Separation (PTS) programme, and Family Legal Advice (FLAS). This review tracks a cohort of people who entered the Family Justice System after the reforms and evaluates the efficiency and effectiveness of in- and out-of-court services. It compares pre-and post-reforms cohort outcomes: specifically: the proportion of people on each pathway in the Family Justice System; the time taken for people to move through each pathway; and outcomes for people in each pathway. 15,727 people were followed. The analysis found that people were more likely to achieve a lasting outcome within a reasonable timeframe in the pre-reforms system. However, the post-reforms out-of-court pathway was most likely to see a lasting outcome when compared with the pre-reforms system and other post-reforms pathways.

If you want a picture of the future, imagine mandated pre-action procedures, registrar case management and information sharing.

Harman J
Family Law Review v. 7 no. 3 2018: 179-195
There are significant delays and a fast increasing workload in the family law system in Australia, prompting much media comment and a newly appointed review. This article considers what immediately available and practical solutions could be introduced into the Federal Circuit Court to address some of the underlying difficulties, to see a dramatic impact with only with only minimal resourcing or legislative change. It looks at pre-action and pre-filing procedures, the role of registrars in case management, the use of privately funded dispute resolution, and information sharing and co-location of services in cases involving family violence.

Screening for partner violence among family mediation clients : differentiating types of abuse.

Cleak H, Schofield M, Axelsen L and Bickerdike A
Journal of Interpersonal Violence v. 33 no. 7 Apr 2018: 1118-1146
Though mediation for couples in dispute over separation and parenting is not mandatory in cases of family violence, screening instruments are still at an early phase of development. This article examines the reliability and validity of some new and established scales for measuring intimate partner violence, as part of a larger study of clients attending family mediation centres in Victoria. The associations between types of abuse and other relationship indicators such as acrimony and parenting alliance are also examined, as well as the prevalence of different types of abuse among the client group. Most clients disclosed a history of at least one type of violence by their partner: 95% reported psychological aggression, 72% controlling and jealous behaviour, 50% financial control, and 35% physical assault. The implications for practice and research are also discussed.

Evidencing the effectiveness of professional development partnering to influence strength-based practice in family dispute resolution and motivate self-agency for social change.

Williams N
Peer reviewed papers from the FRSA 2017 National Conference : connecting the dots - creating wellbeing for all. Fyshwick, ACT : Family & Relationship Services Australia, 2017: 38-51
This paper describes family dispute resolution practices at Family Relationship Centre Logan, in Queensland. It discusses the role of family relationship centres in motivating change, bringing a strength-based case management approach into screening and assessment activity, professional development and child inclusive practice, strengthening the voices of children, partnering with primary schools to help children affected by family breakdown, the benefits of children, parents and practitioners working together in family relationship services. An extensive appendix includes findings from client surveys, a referral pathways chart, and a Framework for Client and Practitioner Engagement in Child Informed Family Dispute Resolution.
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