The A- Z of Family Law

In this week’s series on the A – Z of Family Law, Georgia takes a look at the letter M, covering the topics of Mediation and Marriage.


Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. A mediator is someone trained in resolving disputes and working through the issues. In a mediation process, both sides set out their positions and what they would like. The mediator then works through those positions and provides alternate suggestions and ideas for solutions.

The benefit of mediation is it tends to factor in the practicalities of the situation, through open dialogue and coming to a mutual agreement. Unlike in court proceedings, where the judge doesn’t know you and doesn’t know your family other than the facts on paper. Sometimes the judgment made is not necessarily the best decision that’s made for either party so no one really wins.

Family Dispute Resolution

If you do need to commence proceedings in court for a family law matter, you will be required to engage in what’s called family dispute resolution. Usually, this is conducted at services such as Interrelate Relationships Australia. Interrelate is a not-for-profit provider of relationship services that specialises in supporting parents and children. This is a government-funded service, offered for free so the downside is there could be delays in the process. You can also do this through a private family dispute resolution practitioner, which will be much quicker. Their primary role is to resolve parenting issues. However, if they are unable to do that they will issue you a section 60 I certificate, and thereafter you’ll able to commence proceedings in court. But you must attempt a family dispute resolution prior to commencing proceedings in court, subject to exceptions for example urgency and significant risk.

Legal Aid Mediation

Mediation can also occur during the court process. If you have legal aid funding in your matter, you can sometimes have what is called legal aid mediations. It is the same process as a mediation, it just tends to be a little bit cheaper because legal aid assists in the funding for that process.

Family Law Settlement service

If you are required to attend a mediation and you don’t have the funds to pay for a private mediator you can go to a family law settlement service. There is still a fee for this service, however, it is nominal compared to the fees that you would pay as part of the private mediation process.


Marriage is the legal recognition of your relationship and ‘union’. In Australia, this can now be between any gender. A legal requirement prior to marriage, is you have to provide a notice of intention to marry, 28 days before your ceremony. Once you are married the court has jurisdiction to deal with matters, however, they also have jurisdiction before that if you’ve been in a de facto relationship.

Sometimes issues arise in relation to someone not being validly, married. Often this occurs with respect to Australia not recognizing overseas marriages which is rare, however, it does occur. If that is something that is concerning for you or someone that you know, you should definitely contact a lawyer to discuss your situation.

Check out the other Letters in the A – Z of Family Law: