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Family Law Telephone Conferences


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This information is general and is not a substitute for legal advice. The Legal Service Commission provides free advice for most legal problems. Contact the Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424

What is Family Law Conferencing?

The Family Law Act requires that, in most cases, before you make an application to the court for a parenting order, you must attend family dispute resolution. The Commission provides one type of family dispute resolution where the parties may be legally assisted. It can help you to resolve your dispute without going to court. 

In some situations, the Family Law Conference may occur via a telephone. Telephone Conferences are particularly useful where:

  • there are safety concerns;
  • the parties live in different or remote locations;
  • the parties cannot attend in person.

Do I need a lawyer?

If you are granted legal assistance to attend a conference, your lawyer will attend the conference with you and their legal costs will be met by the Commission as part of your grant of aid. It is not a requirement that the other party be represented by a lawyer however we recommend that they at least obtain legal advice before they attend the conference.

What do I need to do before a telephone conference?

Conferences are a good way of settling your dispute without the stress and anxiety of going to court. It is an opportunity for you to have your say and to consider solutions that everyone can agree on. Before the telephone conference you should confirm with the FDR Unit and your lawyer (if you have one) that you are able to participate in the Conference by phone and that you are available for the duration of the Conference (up to three hours).

If a party requires an interpreter we can also arrange this.

Who attends a conference?

You and the other person will take part in the conference, together with your lawyers (if you have one).If the court has appointed a lawyer to represent the best interests of your child, this independent children’s lawyer will also be involved in the telephone conference.

The conference is conducted by a Chairperson who is an independent person trained in conferencing and family law.

What happens at a telephone conference?

Generally, the Chairperson will contact each of the parties by telephone on the date and time of the Conference. The Chairperson may speak to the lawyers first (if there are lawyers present) and then each party. Once the Chairperson has spoken to each party in turn, the Chairperson will then convene a telephone conference with all the parties. The Chairperson will facilitate a discussion for the parties to address their concerns and to develop options to assist the parties to reach an outcome. If you have a lawyer, the Chairperson will allow you to speak privately to your lawyer during the Conference.

What happens if we reach agreement?

If an agreement is reached at a telephone conference, and the parties are legally represented, the lawyers will prepare an agreement and arrange for the parties to sign it. If there are no lawyers, the Chairperson will prepare the document and provide it to the parties for signing.

In appropriate cases the chairperson may issue a certificate for the purposes of the Family Law Act concerning your attendance at the conference.


To confirm your participation in a telephone conference, or for further queries please contact the FDR Unit on 8111 5534.


30 April 2020