Finding a way


The Impact of Family Separation

Whether married or de facto - divorce or break up is challenging.

In fact, family separation can be one of the most stressful periods in a person's life. 

When a relationship ends, it is normal to experience great uncertainty, profound disappointment and loss.

Separated couples often need help and support to sort out the financesproperty settlement and/or parenting arrangements (formerly custody and access). 

Assistance from experienced and qualified practitioners is often essential in order to achieve a mutually agreed lasting settlement of these issues.


What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family Dispute Resolution (or FDR) is the term used under Australian family law for family law mediation

Participation in FDR is now mandatory before going to court for parenting disputes, except in certain cases; including where there is urgency, child abuse or family violence. 

Mediators who conduct FDR are known as Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners (FDRPs) under family law. They have post graduate qualifications in FDR and are registered with the Attorney-General's Department (Cth) to practice. FDRPs are authorised to issue section 60I certificates, which enable parties to proceed to court for parenting orders.


FDR can be especially helpful as an early intervention after separation - in order to reduce the escalation of conflict.

FDR may avoid a costly and drawn out legal process - and lawyer involvement is optional.

Why FDR Private? 

FDR Private mediators are multidisciplined.


They are former lawyers and senior FDRPs with 20+ years of combined legal and mediation experience. Whilst their professional focus is mediation, they utilise training and experience from the social sciences, law and dispute resolution. 

FDR Private is independently operated and does not receive government support. Government funded FDR is a low cost option - but long delays are common and low wages make attracting quality staff a challenge for these providers. Most of their mediators have no legal qualifications.

Using a legal practitioner is another option. We encourage people to obtain independent family law advice, however the cost of using a private family lawyer is financially out of reach for many and others are concerned about engaging in an adversarial process. 

FDR Private offers an alternative.


We value preserving a relationship after separation and limiting the ill effects of conflict - particularly if there are children involved. FDR Private clients can expect a professional, prompt and affordable high quality service. We can generally offer a first appointment within a week of your enquiry and a mediation session within a week following both party's first appointment. 

Our fixed fees provide certainty and transparency - see our costs under FAQs. FDR Private aims to improve access to just outcomes of family law disputes by providing high quality and affordable FDR. We are a private FDR provider offering a nation wide service to Australians through online mediation. We also offer face to face mediations in Hobart, Tasmania. Call 1800 804 804  to discuss how FDR Private may serve you.


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Mark Dickinson

Principal and Founder 

Mark founded FDR Private from a desire to raise the standards of FDR practice and to increase its accessibility to more Australians.

He has over 25 years experience as a dispute resolution practitioner. He brings to practice expertise from the disciplines of law, mediation and the social sciences. This multidisciplinary approach means he understands both the legal context to the dispute as well as the personal or relational factors. He knows how to facilitate difficult conversations and guide participants to workable solutions. 

Mediation has been his primary professional focus since 2011. He has 15 years prior experience as a lawyer and 10 years as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. He has mediated disputes for over a thousand clients.

He has a degree in Arts and Laws (1995) and a Master of Dispute Resolution (Hons) (2010). Mark became a Nationally Accredited Mediator (NMAS) in 2011 and an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) in 2012. He is a graduate of the Tasmanian Leaders Program (2015) and a commonwealth government doctoral scholarship recipient researching family dispute resolution.

The FDR Private process


There are two essential stages to the FDR process: a pre-mediation stage a mediation stage.


Pre-mediation stage - This involves an individual, confidential meeting with you, and your lawyer, if you choose to use one. We gain an understanding of your needs, interests, and some of the background. This helps us to tailor the mediation session to suit your circumstances. We will clearly outline how the mediation session will be conducted and ensure you feel ready and prepared before proceeding to the mediation stage. We will also review any documents drafted by you or your lawyer during this stage. The pre-mediation stage typically takes around 60 minutes for each participant. This pre-mediation session will be conducted by a registered FDRP (mediator) who will also conduct the mediation.


Mediation stage - This is where the parties involved in the dispute and the mediator meet to discuss the issues and work towards a mutual agreement. The mediator aims to facilitate a discussion that supports each party to express their views constructively. Although discussing parenting or property settlement with a former partner can be difficult - the mediator will expertly guide the process openly, collaboratively and at times methodically. The FDRP (mediator) will aim to help the parties transform the conflict into an outcome that is sound and will stand the test of time. Mediation sessions may vary in length, with 3 hours being typical. This allows for breaks and individual, private discussions between the mediator and each participant.  Some disputes may benefit from a longer session or more than one session. A recommendation about the length of the mediation will be discussed during the pre-mediation stage. 

Both the pre-mediation and mediation stages can be conducted in person, by phone or via an online platform (such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom).


We take your privacy seriously and ensure the process is private and confidential. Federal and state legislation protect the confidential communications during mediation. Please review our privacy policy here. Where an agreement is reached at mediation we can assist with drafting a written agreement for you. If sessions are conducted in person we will comply with current COVID-19 social distancing requirements.

Free consultation - if you have any questions about FDR Private services, please read our FAQs or call us on 1800 804 804 for a free, no obligation discussion.

Book now - schedule a pre-mediation individual session or a free consultation: call 1800 804 804.