Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Mediation

Recent amendments to the Family Law Act now require parents who are in dispute in relation to children’s issues to attend mediation in an attempt to resolve the dispute prior to the issue of proceedings.

There are some instances where the court recognises that mediation is not appropriate or available or that the situation is so urgent that mediation can be dispensed with.

Grounds for dispensing with mediation are, amongst others, geographical distances, the abduction of children, the failure to return children, unapproved relocation of children, domestic violence and the inability of one party to communicate with the other.

Organisations such as Relationships Australia exist for this purpose and are often successful in resolving the dispute without the necessity of the parties to fight in Court.

We recommend however that if an agreement is reached by mediation and that the terms of the agreement be committed to writing and be approved by the Court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In property disputes the Family Law Act encourages parties to negotiate prior to the issue of proceedings.

The details of the matrimonial estate including valuations of property should be provided to the other party along with certain documents including tax returns should also be provided.

Rather than proceeding to Court if agreement is not reached then there are private practitioner is available to chair a conference between the parties and their legal advisors in an endeavour to resolve the dispute without the necessity and expense and increase of ill- will that arise as a result of the proceedings.

The arbitrator is not a judge and does not make decisions but encourages the parties to come to an agreement that although they may not be happy with they can be content with.