It is mandatory for all couples with children below 21 years of age to go for counseling and mediation once they file for divorce.
Where there are children in the marriage, the law encourages parties to reduce acrimony and work together in making decisions for their children. Providing counseling and/or mediation early will help the parties undergoing divorce proceedings to focus on the best interests and welfare of their children when making decisions on parenting and care arrangements.
CFRCs are mediated by trained judge-mediators and family counsellors. The purpose of such counselling sessions is to allow both parties to settle issues of custody and access amicably in a non-adversarial court setting and negotiate the dynamics of co-parenting after divorce.
CFRCs usually take place in the period between the filing of divorce papers and the first divorce hearing. The general process for a CFRC is:
Filing for Divorce Papers
1st session of CFRC conference and counselling: this conference will be attended by both parties’ lawyers (if any), judge-mediator, and family counsellors.
Family counsellors will then sit with both parties to gather more information.
Subsequent mediation sessions available for those who need more information, or need more time to resolve custody and access issues.
Resolution: Ince both parties reach an agreement, the judge will record it and this will be binding on them in court.
Court Hearing: Should CFRC fail, both parties will prepare to go to court. All information shared during the CFRC will be confidential and not be used as evidence.