Helping the Sydney community with relationships, parenting, ageing, disability, pastoral services and mental wellbeing.

You don't have to do it alone

Sadly, around 33% of first marriages in Australia end in divorce and statistically most marriage breakdowns occur around the end of the summer holiday season, post-Christmas. Communication problems and loss of connection are the two most common reasons, perhaps highlighted by the stress of the Christmas period and the pressure of time spent together.

It can be difficult to navigate through the end of a relationship, emotions are high, and reasonable rational thoughts can be hard to muster. You do not have to go through it alone, CatholicCare Sydney’s Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) service can assist, supporting separating families to find practical solutions and achieve positive outcomes.

“A family dispute resolution practitioner is also known as a mediator, we offer services as an alternative for families so that they do not have to go through the court system,” explains FDR Practitioner Eman Saraya

“All research supports the belief that children and parents benefit from having mediation as opposed to the expensive and often harrowing experience of litigation through court. Mediation provides a safe platform for parents to be able to, if supported correctly, create a co-parenting plan that is effective and supports their culture, their religion, their family systems, their children, and themselves.”

Whilst all work done with separating families focuses on the best needs and interests of the children, issues including property and financial arrangements can also be undertaken during FDR sessions. Parenting arrangements, child support agreements, and conflict management are respectfully and impartially discussed, with key issues identified and addressed first. The entire process is confidential, within the limits of the law.

“We begin by meeting with each parent individually, capturing and understanding their issues and their presenting needs. What is it they're seeking from mediation? We then go to pre-mediation which is a goal-based discussion. We work together to form goals and articulate how they would fit into a future and solution-focused way of being with their children, and with the other parent. And then we would initiate mediation.”

The unique circumstances of each family are taken into consideration and different models of mediation are available. CatholicCare Sydney offers CIP - Child Inclusive Practice allowing the child’s voice to be heard as they are included in the process, Joint – with both parents in the same room, Shuttle – parents in separate rooms, and LAMP or legally assisted mediation with each parent’s lawyer also in the room.

“On the day of mediation, there's always a co-mediator there, someone who is privy to both the other mediator and the clients. So, you have two influencers who know so much and come in and help you, guide you, and facilitate this mediation. We never direct clients, we only facilitate.”

Family Dispute Resolution has become the first choice for separating parents who don’t work things out themselves, eclipsing the court system and lawyer-based negotiation. The success rate is high and is attributed to both partners feeling heard and supported as active participants in a non-hostile environment.

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