Thirty years of community sector property Family Dispute Resolution – a mature, safe, effective, efficient and evidence-based service.

Symposium: Harnessing workhorses or herding cats? Collaborating across the Relationships Australia Federation to research what matters most to families
Friday 27 July, 1155 – 1215


Dr Genevieve Heard
Relationships Australia Victoria

The community sector has a long and little-known history of providing effective property dispute resolution in family law matters. The massive increase in parenting dispute resolution brought about by the introduction of the Family Relationship Centres and compulsory Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) for parenting matters has served to overshadow the extensive provision of property mediation and conciliation services in the community sector.

The history and current prevalence of these services within one large provider (Relationships Australia) will be briefly outlined. The interim results of a large research project will also be discussed. Across Australia, clients attending FDR to resolve property matters have provided pre-, post- and follow-up service data across a number of key variables, including settlement rates, financial costs, personal psychological adjustment, conflict levels, family violence, and for those with children, the interaction of property dispute processes and outcomes with parenting variables.

It will be argued that community-based property dispute resolution is an efficient, effective and safe process for separating couples to resolve their financial issues, and is particularly suited to those who are concurrently dealing with parenting matters and need to protect their crucial cooperative parenting alliance.