Family Law Section 60i Certificate: What is it and who needs one?

 

Parents or other family members who cannot agree about arrangements for parenting and spending time with their children are required by the Family Law Act to attend mediation, and obtain a Certificate of Attendance (Section 60I Certificate) before they can make an application to the Court for Parenting Orders. To obtain the Section 60i Certificate, the parties must attempt mediation from a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

 

A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) is an independent person who helps people affected by separation or divorce to resolve their disputes. The mediator who conducts the mediation must be accredited by the Federal Attorney-General as an FDRP. 

The intention of attending mediation should be focused on reaching an outcome that is in the best interests of the child and so far as possible, convenient and appropriate for parents and other family members such as grandparents. Whilst agreements are often reached through mediation, sometimes, they are not. If an agreement is not reached, a Section 60i Certificate is issued by the FDR Practitioner indicating the reason the parties were unable to reach an agreement.

 

Types of Section 60i Certificates

The types of section 60i Certificates, which may be issued by Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are:

  • non-attendance because the other party refused or failed to attend;

  • non-attendance because the FDRP considered that your circumstances were not appropriate for Family Dispute Resolution;

  • non-attendance and the parties did not make a genuine effort to resolve the issues;

  • the parties attended but the other party, or you, did not make a genuine effort to resolve issues; or

  • the parties attended and mediation commenced, but the FDR considered that it would not be appropriate to continue.

Once issued, the FDRP cannot alter the Certificate. If you wish to attempt mediation again, you would need to engage in a fresh round of mediation and request a new Section 60I Certificate.

 

Confidentiality

Everything you say in front of an FDR Practitioner is confidential, with only a few exceptions, such as to prevent a threat to someone's life, or the commission of a serious crime.

And, an FDR practitioner must report child abuse or anything that indicates a child is at risk of abuse. In such a case, this may be used as evidence in some circumstances.

Otherwise, the FDR Practioner cannot be called as a witness if your parenting orders application ends up proceeding to trial, and whatever was said by either party during FDR cannot be used by either party as evidence against them in court.

The Section 60i Certificate does not include any commentary about what was discussed in the mediation.

When filing an Application, the Court requires that a copy of the Section 60I Certificate be filed with the Court Application.

 

Exemptions from filing Section 60i Certificate

There are limited reasons why a Court would accept an Application for filing, without a Section 60I Certificate.

Under section 60I(9) of the Act, you can seek an exemption from providing a certificate in the following circumstances:

  • if your matter is urgent

  • if the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

    • there has been child abuse and/or family violence by a party

    • there is a risk of family violence by a party, and/or

    • there is a risk of child abuse if there were to be a delay in applying to the Court

  • where a party is unable to participate effectively in family dispute resolution (for example, due to an incapacity to do so or physical remoteness from a family dispute resolution provider)

  • if your application relates to an alleged contravention of an existing order that was made within the last 12 months, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person who has allegedly contravened the order has behaved in a way that shows a serious disregard for his or her obligations under that order.

 

How to find a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner

To find a Family Dispute Resolution Centre or a list of registered Family Dispute Resolution Providers, visit the following websites: 

www.familyrelationships.gov.au/

https://interact.support/find-a-family-dispute-resolution-practitioner/

https://www.fdrr.ag.gov.au/Search.aspx

The information in this article is general in nature and should not be considered as legal advice. You should seek the advice of a registered professional who will be able to appropriately assess your specific circumstances before offering their expert opinion.

 

Divorce Australia

If you have decided to end your relationship, you should start to educate yourself.  I know the overwhelming feelings of making these decisions and facing your new realities. My book, The First Steps through Separation and Divorce will guide you through the emotional and practical aspects you may need to address in the coming weeks, months and years.

 

MORE READING:
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Why the Benefits of Divorce Mediation Are More Than Just Financial

7 Ways parents can help children cope with separation and divorce

Relocating to another state with your child after divorce: steps you can take

Mother's who deny fathers access to children could be jailed

Life of an alienated parent: Coping with the trauma of parental alienation

 

Published by:

Christine Weston Divorce Australia

Published by, Christine Weston
Founding Director and Creator of Divorce Resource
Australian Nationally Accredited Mediator and Divorce Coach

 

 

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