The role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is not to take sides or give opinions on who is a better parent. The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner’s role is an independent, neutral one.
The role of the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner is to facilitate the process, enabling the parties to explore the issues in dispute, generate lots of ideas for resolving any conflict over the children or how they communicate with each other and ultimately reach agreements regarding arrangements for the child.
After a welcome to the Joint Session the Practitioner invites both parties to have an opening statement regarding the issues in dispute, their concerns in relation to the children and their hopes for the resolution of the issues in dispute.
The Practitioner creates an Agenda based on the opening statements of the parties, which is a simple list of the important issues that the parties both agree to discuss in the Joint Session.
The Practitioner’s role is then to ensure that the parties communicate respectfully and constructively with each other. Belittling, eye rolling, intimidating, mocking or swearing at the other party is not permitted. If one party is behaving in an offensive or aggressive manner, the Practitioner will immediately pause the process and place the parties in separate rooms until it can be ensured that the communication between the parties will proceed in a respectful, dignified manner.
The goal of the Joint Session is for the parties to reach practical arrangements for the children, placing an end to ongoing conflict. Children, when consulted in Family Law matters, often say that they need their parents to ‘just get along.’ The deeper goal of the Family Dispute Resolution process is to improve the communication between the parties so that important issues in relation to the children can be discussed when they arise.