Resolving family law disputes

When couples are separating or getting divorced, there can be difficult decisions to be made about what to do with children and how to divide up property. People ending relationships can often have very different views about what they think is best or fair.

Disagreements with your partner or other family members about money, parenting and children are common, even if you are not ending a relationship.

Quick Answers Video: Ways to resolve your family law dispute
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There are various ways of resolving family law issues about children and property.  Find out:

  • some of the different ways you can try to resolve your family law dispute
  • what Family Dispute Resolution involves
  • the advantages of using FDR instead of going through a court case.

How can I resolve my family law dispute?

There are various ways of resolving family law issues. Going to the Family Court to get court orders about your children (called a parenting case) or for a property settlement is one way. Other options include:

Do I have to go to the Family Court to sort out a family law problem?

No. The Family Court of WA is just one way get a decision made about your children and property after separation or divorce. You and your former partner and relatives might be able to work out your own arrangements for dividing property and raising your children between yourselves. Using a mediation service such as FDR might help you agree on what to do without having to go to the Family Court.

It can still be useful for you to get advice on how the Family Court makes decisions about children and property, even if you want to sort things out privately. It might help you to understand all your options and to give some comparison on what arrangements are fair or in the best interests of your children.

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) typically involves you and your former partner meeting with a trained family law mediator to help you sort out some or all of the issues that you disagree about. This may include working out who your children live with and spend time with, and what to do about dividing property and finances and child support.

FDR can also be used when there are disputes with other family members (like grandparents or in-laws) spending time with your children, even if you and your partner are still together.

What are the advantages of using FDR to resolve my family law dispute?

Applying for court orders from the Family Court can often be stressful and expensive.

If you want to start a case for parenting orders in the Family Court, you must have tried FDR first unless there are good reasons for not trying FDR. There are similar requirements and exemptions that apply before you can go to court for property orders.

By using FDR to reach an agreement, you can:

  • save money and time
  • achieve an outcome faster than waiting for a trial in the Family Court
  • increase the chances of getting an outcome that is suitable for both people
  • get parenting orders or a property settlement specially designed for your situation
  • avoid the stress and uncertainty of a court case
  • avoid involving your children in a court case
  • reduce the level of hostility in your relationship and improve your communication, and
  • reach an agreement that last longer, because you and your former partner made the decisions together.

Sometimes going to court might be the only way to sort things out; for example, when there has been family violence or child abuse, or you have tried everything else but are unable to reach an agreement with your former partner.


Get help

Find out what Legal Aid WA's Dispute Resolution service can do to help resolve your family law disputes.

Dispute Resolution at Legal Aid WA

We can help you work through family law problems without going to court, including arrangements for children and property settlements.


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.