Alternative Dispute Resolution and the Family Law Courts

Published by Craig Livermore on

Many family law litigants fear high legal costs and long Court delays. If fully advised, separating couples may find it doesn’t have to be that way. Alternative dispute resolution either by mediation or arbitration can resolve your dispute without having to commence Court proceedings.

It is not uncommon for separating couples to take part in a mediation before family law Court proceedings are commenced, in the hope of resolving their differences without the need for what may be lengthy Court proceedings.

Once the proceedings have begun, the Court will conduct a Conciliation Conference chaired by a registrar of the Court that the parties must attend in an effort to resolve the proceedings at an early stage. However it is analogous to a mediation, and the registrar cannot force a settlement.

If there is no settlement at the Conciliation Conference, the proceedings will continue until they are either settled or reach trial. It should be noted that about 9 out of 10 Court actions settle without the need for a trial.

There is another perhaps less used means of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) available – arbitration by a retired judge or barrister who is an approved arbitrator.

The difference between the two forms of ADR is, in short, that a mediation may not produce a result because the parties cannot agree, and the mediator has no power to force a result. He can only assist the parties in reaching a decision they find mutually acceptable.

An arbitration will produce a decision decided upon by the arbitrator based on each party’s evidence given at the arbitration. The decision of the arbitrator is binding on the parties in accordance with the agreement the parties will have entered into before the arbitration began.

For advice in relation to resolving your family law dispute out of Court contact us on (03) 5181 6363.

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