International Family Mediation
International Family Mediation (IFM) is a service offered by ISS Australia that provides expert, impartial assistance in the resolution of family separation disputes across international borders. Since the service began in 2012 it has assisted hundreds of families in over 30 countries.
Our IFM service is the only family mediation service that operates as part of an international network. We support parents both in Australia and overseas to ensure the best outcomes for children.
Our accredited Family Mediators are specialised at facilitating sessions between couples affected by separation or divorce across borders. Our Family Mediators are also qualified Social Workers and work closely with each party to assist in the resolution of issues around parenting.
How does it work?
- Initial intake and screening of both parties to determine if mediation is appropriate
- Co-mediation model facilitated via Zoom Video conferencing
- Online mediation delivered via Zoom Video conferencing
- Issue of a Section 60I certificate for the Family Court of Australia, where appropriate
Why International Family Mediation?
In matters of family dispute, mediation is proven to be a better alternative for a child’s long-term development and well-being. Mediation sessions are not about resolving past relationship issues between parents, but instead coming to an agreed arrangement that is best for the children involved.
ISS Australia also operate as part of the global International Social Service network. We have offices in over 140 countries who can assist. Further, interpreting services are provided at no additional cost.
What is the role of the Mediator?
- Determine suitability of both parents to proceed to joint sessions
- Ensure parents remain child focused throughout sessions
- Ensure that any agreements made promote the best interest of children
- Remain independent and neutral to all parties involved in the process at all times
- Facilitate conversations that allow parents the opportunity to safely discuss and resolve parenting issues
- Facilitate legally assisted mediations where suitable
Our team are experienced in cross cultural and international family dispute resolution.
All ISS Mediators are qualified and accredited by the Commonwealth Government. In addition to their Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) qualification, our mediators are also qualified social workers.
ISS Australia’s Family Mediators cannot provide parents with legal advice. All parents have the right to seek legal advice throughout the mediation process and are encouraged to do so.
The IFM Service does not receive government funding and charge fees on a pay as you go basis. The fees include all work undertaken outside of the mediation sessions, including correspondence, telephone calls, preparation for sessions, records of agreements and interpreting services. The fees associated with our IFM Service are in AUD as per the below table per person:
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“I am extremely happy with the service that was provided for me. Definitely recommend the service and my mediator was very professional and attend to my matter quickly.”
"It helped greatly to be able to have some constructive conversation with the other parent to reach some decisions without emotions or aggression getting in the way".
Frequently Asked Questions
International Family Mediation (also known as ‘Family Dispute Resolution’) is a process where people affected by separation or divorce across international borders are assisted to resolve disputes in relation to children’s issues with each other. IFM is facilitated by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP), more commonly known as a ‘mediator’. It is the mediators role to ensure that the bests interests of children are considered throughout this process.
To be eligible to access the IFM service one parent or caregiver needs to be in Australia and the other needs to be currently residing in an overseas country.
The mediator’s role involves meeting with both parents individually to determine if the matter is suitable to progress to mediation or not. If the matter is deemed appropriate for IFM then the mediator will facilitate the mediation session between the parents/caregivers. The mediator’s role is not to side with either parent or to give legal advice.
The mediator is independent of all parties involved in the process and is experienced in cross-cultural and international family disputes. All of the mediators at ISS Australia are Attorney General’s Department accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners.
Our professional mediators offer a comprehensive International Family Mediation Service including:
- Initial outreach to both parents inviting them to participate in the process,
- Individual intake and screening with both parents/caregivers,
- On-going assessment regarding suitability,
- Online mediation,
- Drafting agreements reached in IFM,
- Issuing section 60I certificates where appropriate.
You can initiate the IFM process through ISS Australia by speaking to a member of the IFM team on the phone, emailing us or by completing the online IFM Contact Form.
The IFM process will commence once the following information has been provided and a mediator has been assigned:
- Other parties contact details (at least one personal email or residential address is required),
- Name and date of birth of child/ren,
- Copy of any Court orders,
- Receipt of payment,
- Copy of concession card where applicable.
The mediator will provide you with updates regarding the progress of your matter. You are also welcome to contact the mediator anytime and ask for an update.
The IFM service process is as follows:
- Parent 1 contacts ISS Australia and requests mediation
- Parent 1 is provided with IFM information pack.
- Parent 1 pays administration fee and provides the contact details for Parent 2 (along with children’s names, details of any court orders, receipt for payment and any concession cards).
- Mediator reaches out to Parent 2 to invite them to participate in mediation.
- If Parent 2 refuses to participate then Parent 1 is offered a Section 60I certificate (see factsheet)
- If Parent 2 agrees to participate they pay the administration fee to start the process.
- Both parents complete an individual screening and assessment intake session (1-2 hours in duration) with a mediator.
- Mediator decides if mediation is suitable. If the mediation is assessed as unsuitable to proceed then a Section 60I certificate is issued to both parents reflecting this.
- If the matter is deemed suitable to progress , a 3 hour mediation session is scheduled at a time suitable for both the parents and mediators, keeping in mind international time zones.
- An online mediation session is then held with the parents and two mediators. Multiple sessions can be arranged depending on the needs of the family. If an agreement is reached, it is written down and can form a goodwill Agreement, or, if signed and dated by both parents, a parenting plan which can then be lodged with the Court to make consent orders.
- Note: Parents are required to pay fees at each step in the process and are encouraged to see their own independent legal advice throughout the process.
If both parents agree to participate in IFM, then the mediator will organise a time to conduct separate intake sessions with each parent. The purpose of the intake session is to gain information regarding the history of the relationship, past and current communication between the parents, determine if there are any mental health, child safety, drug and alcohol, or family and domestic violence issues.
During the intake session, the mediator will seek to clarify what issues the parent would like to address in mediation, make any appropriate referrals, and explain the mediation process in detail. The intake session allows the mediators the opportunity to assess whether mediation is suitable for the situation.
Some of the reasons why mediation may not be suitable could include but is not limited to; previous history of violence between the parents; any risk the child may suffer abuse; and any concerns about safety.
Intake sessions take approximately 1 to 2 ½ hours depending on the complexity of issues and family history.
If mediation is assessed as suitable for your situation and both parents/caregivers are willing to proceed, a mediation appointment will be made. The mediation session will occur via video conference. An initial mediation session generally takes three hours. Sometimes all the issues are resolved in the first session, however when they are not, additional mediation sessions may be offered.
Agreements can cover the following:
- time spent with each parent/caregiver,
- Child wellbeing, education, health, special needs,
- practical considerations,
- cultural needs,
- safety of the child,
- the child’s own views and activities,
- communication between the parents,
- communication between the child and parents,
- children’s relationships with other significant people in their lives such as grandparents.
Please note financial property mediations are not provided by ISS Australia’s IFM service.
The mediator will record any agreements made in mediation. This document is known as a ‘good-will’ agreement which reflects the good faith intentions of the parents to uphold the agreements made.
If parents choose to sign and date written agreements this constitutes a parenting plan in Australia. Parents are not required to go to court to enter into a parenting plan. However parents should seek legal advice before agreeing to a parenting plan. Neither a ‘good faith agreement’ nor ‘parenting plan’ are a legally enforceable agreement, they are agreements made in good faith between parents that they intend to uphold Parenting plans are different from parenting orders, which are made by the court.
Parents, by agreement can take steps outside of the mediation process to make their agreements enforceable; this may include seeking advice from a lawyer to turn the agreement into consent orders. You should seek legal advice before entering into consent orders. (see: https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/children/agree#:~:text=A%20parenting%20plan%20is%20a,entering%20into%20a%20parenting%20plan.)
The international family mediation fees are as follows:
Payment of these fees can be made via Credit card or PayPal on ISS Australia's website using your unique Reference Number provided by the mediator.
Concession card holders and welfare benefit recipients who can prove their entitlement to these benefits are offered a discounted rate. Parents and caregivers currently residing in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries are also given a sliding scale rate. Please ask the mediator for further details if this is relevant to you.
If you are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay the IFM service fees upfront, please speak to the mediator about your situation. The circumstances surrounding the hardship will then be discussed with the IFM service manager. Individual payment plans or financial hardship discounts may be available depending on your personal circumstances.
ISS Australia does not currently have a waiting list for mediation to commence.
If parents provide the required information, pay the associated fees and the commitment of both parents can be determined, the process is initiated at the earliest convenience of all parties.
ISS Australia does not provide property or financial settlement mediation. Feel free to contact the Family Relationships Advice Line on 1800 050 321 for a referral to a property mediation service.
At ISS Australia we want to make sure you feel as safe and supported as possible in order to fully engage in the mediation process and can focus on the needs and wellbeing of your child/ren. If you believe a support person would assist you in feeling comfortable in the mediation process you may discuss this request with the mediator directly.
If a support person is permitted, the other parent in the session will be advised of this and offered the chance to have a support person with them. The support person will not be able to speak in the session, however you can ask to take breaks at any time to consult with them and receive support from them.
Yes. We encourage all parents/carers to seek their own independent legal advice throughout the entire mediation process. They can receive advice prior to the session, take breaks during the session to seek advice, and after the session if they wish to make their agreements into legally enforceable consent orders. The mediators are not able to provide parents with legal advice, however we can make referrals if needed.
Yes. ISS Australia offers Child Consultations. Child consultations are not suitable for every family situation, however, can be provided when appropriate and with the consent of both parents. A child consultation involves a trained specialist meeting with your child/ren to understand what life is like for them at that point in time.
The Child Consultant aims to explore the child’s experiences, worries, hopes, needs and concerns in a safe and confidential environment. ISS Australia Child Consultants can meet with children five years old and above. The service is offered virtually, across Australia and we also offer face-to-face services in Sydney and Melbourne. The Child Consultation is then followed by a meeting between the Child Consultant, mediators and parents to provide feedback to the parents on the session.
For further information see: https://www.iss.org.au/our-services/child-consultation
Yes, the mediation team at ISS Australia can offer legally assisted mediation where both parents agree and have access to independent lawyers. For further details please discuss this with your mediator who will be able to discuss the format and role of lawyers in this context.
For information regarding registration of overseas child orders and registration of Australian child orders in other countries see:
You may wish to contact the Australian Central Authority for further information (1800 100 480 or email email@example.com). For detailed information regarding registration of consent orders in an overseas country you may also wish to seek advice from a lawyer in that overseas country.