In most cases the law requires parents and other people involved in a dispute about a child to attend Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) before applying to the Family Court for orders. However, there are some exemptions from this requirement, including urgent cases about children and if there has been family violence or child abuse, or there is a risk of these.
The information on this webpage will help you understand the different types of FDR exemptions that are available.
If you are applying to the Family Court for orders about a child without first attending FDR you will need to lodge one of the following documents at the same time as you lodge your other application documents on the eCourts Portal of WA:
- a certificate completed by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner which says that your case is not suitable for FDR, or
- a Family Dispute Resolution Exemption Form (Form NP1) which you can find on the Family Court of WA website (depending on the reason you are asking for an exemption, you may need to complete other forms as well).
It is recommended that you get legal advice before starting a court case.
Family violence or child abuse
If you or a member of your family has experienced family violence or child abuse, or there is a risk of these, you are not required to attend FDR. You can make an application to the Family Court for orders about your child without first attending FDR.
If your ex-partner or another person who is involved has contacted an FDR service to arrange mediation, you can tell the service about your experience and/or concerns about family violence or child abuse and ask for a certificate to say FDR is not appropriate in your case.
You can find out more information about family violence on the Legal Aid WA webpage What is family violence?
In cases about a child that are urgent, you do not have to go to FDR first before applying to the Family Court for orders. For example, if a child has been removed from their usual carer and the child is at risk. The court would need to be satisfied that the case is urgent. If the court is not satisfied that the case is urgent, the people involved would need to try FDR first before being able to start a case in the Family Court.
A person is unable to effectively participate
If a person involved in the dispute is unable to effectively participate in FDR, you can ask for an exemption from attending FDR. For example, due to an incapacity of some kind or living in a remote place. However, this exemption is not used very often as people can usually attend mediation by telephone if they are unable to attend in person and interpreters can be organised if required.
Contravention of an order about a child
There is an exemption from attending FDR if you are lodging a contravention application which alleges a person is not following an order about a child which was made less than 12 months ago. The alleged behaviour must show a serious disregard of obligations under that order.
Reviewed: 15 March 2023