Alternative Avenues to Court Proceedings

Dispute resolution

Dispute resolution mechanisms are designed to assist individuals in resolving their disputes without the involvement of court. The Family Court and Federal Circuit Court utilise these mechanism as they are often time and cost efficient, affordable and easier to understand than court. Dispute resolution allows you to maintain greater control and management of your case, the process and the overall outcome as it is not always lost in legal jargon.

What kind of dispute resolution services are there?

A genuine effort must be made to resolve your dispute before you apply to courts for parenting or financial orders.

For parenting orders, a Court is unable to hear an application without being provided with a certificate from an accredited family dispute practitioner with the application.

The same applies for financial orders. In order for the Family Court to take action, a pre-action procedure must be taken, such as engaging with dispute resolution prior to filing an application with court.

In the Federal Circuit Court individuals are encouraged to resolve issues they are in conflict with prior to filing any applications. In more instances than not, parties will be ordered to attend dispute resolution before they begin filing proceedings with the Court.

  1. Mediation and conciliation are two of the most common avenues of dispute resolution in which parties take part in. However, as courts begin to reach maximum capacity, other avenues are emerging. An example of this is Collaborative Practice which is a relatively new alternative dispute resolution in the Australian family law arena. The process is a holistic approach which: Assists parties in maintaining open lines of communication and information sharing;
  2. Provides a formal structure in which positive child focused communications are modelled by lawyers and other advisers;
  3. Encourages parties to focus on the interests of the child rather than the formalities of court proceedings;
  4. Aims to achieve results that meet the needs of each of the parties and their children;
  5. Minimises the cost and time associated with ongoing communications between solicitors during court proceedings;

Utilises the expertise of independent experts including child experts and financial advisers that are not affiliated with the adversarial system.

What does a dispute resolution cost?

How much a dispute resolution costs is dependent on the provider. Private providers will determine their own fees, whereas Family relationship centres offer one hour of their services for free and look to your financial situation when charging you for your matter.

We have reached an agreement. Now what?

If you and your former partner have reached an agreement by utilising dispute resolution services, then you are able to file for a consent order or make a parenting plan with the Court.

Are there any exceptions?

In some situations, the court may grant you an exception in attending dispute resolution. These exceptions are generally where there is domestic violence in the household, child abuse or if the matter is urgent. If your case falls into one of these categories, it is best to seek legal advice.

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