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Do you want to resolve a family law dispute without going to court? A family dispute resolution conference may be able to help.
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A conference can help you resolve family law problems about parenting issues, spousal maintenance or property settlement without going to court.
You may need to have a conference before lodging an application with the court. In some cases, the court might order you to attend a family dispute resolution conference.
Advantages of reaching an agreement at a conference include:
You can find out more about conferencing in our online video Life after separation: putting the pieces back together available at www.legalaid.qld.gov.au. This video is targeted at couples who are considering family separation and provides a range of information to help guide couples through the legal process of separation, and to make arrangements that are in the best
interests of their children.
You may be able to attend a family dispute resolution conference if you meet our eligibility criteria and the dispute is about:
If you do not qualify for a conference, you can access our Having trouble dividing your property after separation or divorce? factsheet for more information.
Children cannot attend the conference.
The conference is usually held at one of our local offices. We can arrange a telephone conference at a community centre, courthouse or lawyer’s office if you are in a remote area or you have a domestic violence protection order.
The conference is held during business hours, in the morning or afternoon. We will arrange the conference for a date and time when everyone can attend. A conference can take up to half a day. You should set aside four hours.
If you have a domestic violence protection order, we will ask for your written approval to hold a conference. You should immediately send us a copy of your order.
Yes, the conference is confidential so everyone can speak freely. But information that affects your children’s or other people’s safety cannot be kept secret.
For a conference about your children:
For a conference about your property:
Please let us know—before the conference—if you need an interpreter. We will arrange and pay for an interpreter to attend the conference if you are eligible for legal aid funding or if you are attending the conference self-represented.
Conferences can be held in one room, in separate rooms or by telephone. Time is always made for you to meet privately with your lawyer and have a break if you need one.
When the conference starts, the family dispute resolution practitioner will explain how the conference will run. It is their role to help you discuss the issues in dispute and resolve these issues. The family dispute resolution practitioner does not give legal advice or make decisions for anyone.
The family dispute resolution practitioner makes confidential recommendations to us about continuing your legal aid grant. We will consider the practitioner’s recommendations, but may not follow them. Legal aid will be provided to financially eligible parties to have any agreement reached drafted into a consent order, for filing in court.
The family dispute resolution practitioner also assesses the most appropriate s 60I certificate to issue that you can use to show the court you attended the conference. In some cases you may need the certificate if you want to begin court proceedings. Ask the court for more information about this process.
The certificate will show who attended the conference and if they made a genuine effort to resolve their dispute. The court may take this information into account when deciding whether to send you back to family dispute resoltuion. The court may also use the information to decide whether to make an order for costs against a person.
To apply for legal aid, fill out an application form and send it to your local Legal Aid Queensland office. You should get legal advice before filling out the form. Make sure you attach the financial documents asked for before sending it. Legal aid for a conference is available to anyone who meets our means and merit test.
If you are granted aid, we will pay your lawyer’s fees for attending the conference, subject to any conditions listed. If you have genuine concerns about attending a conference, tell your lawyer and a Legal Aid Queensland officer immediately.
Last updated 21 May 2018