Alternate dispute resolution – What’s that?

By July 26, 2017Family Law

Getting your “day in court” is a common expression when talking about finding a legal resolution particularly in a family law matter where a relationship has broken down.  It might surprise you to know then that most family lawyers work really hard to avoid you spending a day in court.

The costs involved in a court appearance or protracted court based legal solution can be significant and are often not as predictable for you, the client, as reaching a resolution before you get in front of the judge. 

That’s why the Fox and Thomas Family Law team engage a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution or “ADR” measures when working with you to find a resolution.

So, what does that mean?

At its most simple, ADR in the family law context refers to any method of settling your legal dispute without resorting to proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court.  Proceedings involve often more than two actual appearances by the parties and their lawyers at the court to argue their respective positions or to get the matter underway.  Even then, the Court more often than not will urge you to use an ADR process rather than go to trial.

A commonly used form of ADR is mediation.  Mediation is a structured negotiation process whereby the “mediator”, an independent third party, assists the parties to clearly define the issues in dispute and negotiate an agreement to resolve their dispute.  The mediator does not make a decision which is binding upon the parties, but rather their role is to guide the parties towards reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

Using ADR can often be a quicker and more cost effective way to resolve a family matter, given the significant delays that people experience in waiting for their matters to be heard in the Courts.  It can take up to 2 to 3 years for a matter to proceed to trial and even once a trial has occurred, people may have to wait months for the Court to deliver its judgment.  These delays leave families hanging in limbo without a resolution, not to mention the significant legal costs they incur.

Other benefits of using ADR include:

  • greater control over resolving your dispute
  • the opportunity to voice your needs and wishes
  • negotiating the terms of your settlement rather than leaving it in the hands of a judge
  • potentially preserving an amicable relationship with your former spouse
  • reducing the overall cost of reaching a satisfactory solution

At Fox and Thomas, we are committed to using ADR as a first response to resolving both property and parenting matters before we consider resorting to seeking the Court’s determination.

For more information on using ADR to resolve your family law matter please contact Kay Rhodes or Jessica Devane on 07 4671 6000.