At Watson & Watson our clients come first. Please be assured of our continued dedicated services to all current and new clients.

As we have done in the past, we will continue to offer alternative conferencing methods ie video conferencing, skype or telephone conferences. Reviewing of all documentation provided to us prior to any initial conference will be all inclusive of our set fee. Do not hesitate to contact Shereen Da Gloria on (02) 9221 6011 should you have any concerns.

Parenting Applications – Family Dispute Resolution – Case Dismissed for Non Compliance


The Family Law Act requires parents who are in dispute in relation to children to make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute by participating in Family Dispute Resolution.  The dispute resolution procedure must be attempted before any proceedings can be commenced in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court. If an agreement can be reached the agreement is used as a basis for the Parenting Plan or Consent Orders that can be approved and made by the Family Court. 

If family dispute resolution fails the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will provide a Certificate s60I Certificate. The Certificate must be filed at Court with the Initiating Application. The Court will not accept the Application unless it is accompanied by the Certificate.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are certain limited exceptions to the requirement for participation in family dispute resolution. Those exceptions are:

  • There has been abuse of the child or children by one of the parties to the proceedings.
  • There would be risk of abuse to the child or children if there was a delay in applying for an order.
  • There has been family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings.
  • There is a risk of family violence by one of the parties to the proceedings.
  • That the Application is made in relation to a particular issue.
  • That the Application is made in circumstances of urgency.

If these circumstances exist, an Affidavit setting out the evidence of the circumstances must be filed with the Application. 

The recent case of Ellwood v Ravenhill illustrates what can occur if proceedings are commenced and there has not been any attempt at primary dispute resolution.

Recent Case Law

In the circumstances of this case, the father of two teenage children made an application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia for Orders reflective of the informal arrangements that had been in place for a significant period after the separation of the parties.  The Respondent Mother applied in her Response for Orders dismissing the Father’s application on the basis that there was no section 60I Certificate filed with the Initiating Application and that the Court lacked jurisdiction.  The Federal Circuit Court Judge proceeded with the case to the extent that he ordered the mother and father to attend a Child Dispute Conference with a Family Consultant.  The Respondent Mother appealed.

The Appeal Judge in the Family Court of Australia took the view that the failure to file a section 60I Certificate was fatal to the father’s application.  The Appeal Judge observed that the requirement for parties to a dispute about Parenting Orders to make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute with the assistance of a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner before an application is made to the Court.  The requirement is “mandatory” and there had been no finding that one of the exceptions to the requirement of the filing of a section 60I Certificate existed.

The Appeal Court dismissed the father’s Application on the basis that the provisions of Section 60I had not been complied with.  The parties need to make a genuine effort to resolve that dispute with the assistance of a dispute resolution practitioner before the Application is made to the Court. 

If you are involved in a family law dispute be it a parenting/contact matter or financial/property settlement dispute or have any concerns or queries in relation to the dispute resolution process, please contact Richard Watson, Senior Family Law Solicitor or his Personal Assistant Shereen Da Gloria to discuss your concerns and seek advice to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken when it comes to parenting and family dispute resolution.

This is only a preliminary view and is not to be taken as legal advice without first contacting Watson & Watson Solicitors on 9221 6011.

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