2 Aug 2015

Child mediation service success doubted

9:59 am on 2 August 2015

A family law barrister is casting doubt over the success of an outside court child mediation service for separating or divorcing couples.

Family Works Central, which began in March last year as part of the Government's family justice reforms, was estimated to save $65 million over four years.

The service has said, during its operation, almost 90 percent of its clients have reached an agreement over child care out of court.

It said the mediation process known as Family Dispute Resolution recently had its 500th referral.

Family law barrister Catriona MacLennan said that was not many in comparison to the previous system, and she suspected that many were falling through the cracks.

"That's just actually a tiny fraction of the cases that used to go to the family court. Before the reforms there was more than 80,000 applications a year," she said.

Ms MacLennan said the reforms also removed the six free counselling sessions estranged couples used to get.