FDR exemptions

The Family Court normally requires separating couples to try and resolve their family law disputes themselves, before starting a court case.

If you are starting a parenting case, or coming back to court for more orders, you must have a certificate that you tried FDR before the court will accept your documents for filing. But there are some important exceptions to this requirement.

This information will help you to understand when you can make an application for parenting orders in the Family Court without first trying FDR. Find out:

  • the exemptions that apply in situations involving family violence or child abuse
  • the other exemptions for having to attend FDR before starting a Family Court case
  • what you should do if you think an exemption applies in your situation.

Do I have to try FDR if there has been or is a risk of family violence?

No, you can apply directly to the Family Court for parenting orders without first going to FDR. You also have the option of contacting an FDR Practitioner to start the FDR process and asking for a certificate to say that it is not appropriate for your family law dispute to go through FDR, because of the history or risk of family violence.

What is family violence?

Family violence is violence or the threat of violence against you (or a family member) by another family member (or boyfriend or girlfriend), or other behaviour that makes you do things you don’t want to do or controls or frightens you. 

Do I have to attend FDR if there has been or is a risk of child abuse?

No, you can apply directly to the Family Court for parenting orders without first going to FDR. You also have the option of contacting an FDR Practitioner and asking for a certificate to say that it is not appropriate for your family law dispute to go through FDR, because of the history or risk of child abuse in the relationship.

What is child abuse?

There are different kinds of child abuse. They are:

What are the other exemptions for not attending FDR for parenting disputes?

The other exemptions are:

  • where someone is applying for procedural orders, interim orders or consent orders
  • if you are responding to an application that has already been filed in court
  • where the matter is urgent
  • where it is not practical for one of you to participate in FDR, for reasons including physical incapacity or disability, living in a remote place without access to FDR services, or language barriers to participating in FDR, or
  • where you are going back to court because the other person has seriously broken or ignored a court order made in the last 12 months about the same issue.

What should I do if I think an exemption applies to my situation?

FDR Practitioners or family lawyers can help you decide if any of the exceptions apply to you.

If you want to rely on an exemption from compulsory FDR, you will need to complete an Exemption Form from the Family Court and provide an affidavit to explain why the exemption applies to your situation. Depending on the reason you are claiming an exemption, you may need to complete other forms as well.

Even if an exemption applies to your situation, the court will consider whether or not you and your former partner should try to negotiate or to attend FDR before your case can continue.

 

More information

Disclaimer

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.