Family dispute resolution is sometimes overlooked by separating couples who opt to take their disputes to court.

But Centacare is urging them to think again as it grows its Family Dispute Resolution Service in regional SA.

Currently a Centacare practitioner visits the Limestone Coast once a month, however the service will now be offered fortnightly at Centacare South East in Mount Gambier after the Australian Government extended funding for a further five years.

A post-separation parenting course will also be introduced to support parents to better manage their co-parenting and to assist with ways to communicate more respectfully with one another in the best interests of their children.

Ceri Bruce is a Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Centacare and said mediation is an often quicker, and more collaborative and affordable option for resolving parenting and property disputes.

“People think that because it is not legally binding it’s a waste of time, but we are here to try and save parents the headache and cost of going to court,’’ she said.

“Our role is not to find out who’s right and wrong. It is to help parents think about what’s best for their children and support them to make child-focused parenting plans, as well as just and equitable property agreements.’’

The Government’s decision to increase funding reflects the significant role specialist mediators play in helping families to manage change, Ceri said.

“You can come and gather all the information you need to understand what your property and asset pool is to talk about options which saves a large expense before having to engage lawyers.’’

Child consultations are available to ensure the voice of the child is heard in a safe supported manner in parenting arrangements.

In family law cases, separating couples must make a genuine effort to resolve disagreements through dispute resolution services before they can apply to the courts for parenting and financial orders.

The Family Law Court will require parents to attempt mediation before hearing an application for a parenting order. When mediation is unsuccessful a certificate from an accredited family dispute practitioner is available to be filed with the application.

Research shows more people who attend mediation are happier with the outcome than those who elect to go to court.

Ceri said family dispute resolution encourages cooperation between parents and is a less public way of resolving their disputes.

For more information about Centacare’s Family Dispute Resolution Service, please phone 8215 6700 or the South East office on 8303 6630.