Alternative dispute resolution such as mediation, conciliation conferences and arbitration, has always been a key part of the way in which Family Law matters are dealt with by the Courts. Alternate dispute resolution is designed to free up some of the limited resources of the Courts, and provide a more efficient way for disputes to be resolved.
The types of dispute resolution that the parties can be directed to fund themselves include:
· Mediation – with a private mediator appointed by the parties.
· Arbitration – for property matters where both parties consent.
The advantages of these options are that the parties have control over the appointment of the mediator, the matter will be heard much sooner than the Courts with long delays to finalise matters. Although the parties are required to fund the mediation or arbitration, the cost will be usually a fraction of the cost of running matters to final hearing in the Courts.
Where the Court considers that the resources and means of the parties are not sufficient to fund private mediation or arbitration, the Court can order:
· Conciliation conference - before a registrar of the Court, who acts to mediate the dispute, but not make a decision or any findings.
· Judicial Settlement Conference – a Judge of the Court will assist the parties to reach agreement, and may an express a view or opinion about the matter. No decision will be made or any findings.
In all cases the process is confidential and no evidence arising from it can be used in Court. The parties are expected to engage in good faith negotiations and make a genuine effort to resolve all issues in dispute, or at the very least, narrow the issues in dispute between the parties.
Under the new Central Practice Direction of the Federal Circuit and Family Court (FCAFCOA) the Court must consider the means and resources of the parties in deciding what form of dispute resolution will take place.
We are able to assist with your Family Law matter, including preparing for mediation. As a member of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM) and a nationally accredited Mediator, registered under the National Mediator Accreditation Scheme we can also conduct property mediations for Family Law matters.
For more information on the mediation process, or advice relating to a dispute, please contact our office on (02) 6331 2911. You can also visit the KS Mediate page on our website. We're here to help!
Angus Edwards | Principal