Best Wilson Buckley Family Law offer a range of Alternatives for resolving your family law matter.
Your Alternatives can be used in isolation or as a combination depending on your situation. What works for you will rarely be the same as your best friend, sibling, or your neighbour. No two families are ever the same and, naturally, no two family law matters are ever the same.
There are a range of alternatives available for resolving your family law matter. These alternatives can be used in isolation or as a combination depending on your situation, as well as your needs, wants and desires, such as any ongoing relationship, the wellbeing of the children and your future financial security.
As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages of each option which will also have a different emotional and financial cost. Your family lawyer can advise on what may be the most appropriate option or pathway for you. Ultimately, you need to be comfortable with and feel empowered by your choices. This can create a renewed sense of possibility for the future with a more meaningful outcome for you and your family.
Download our – Your Alternatives Guide
We offer a completely confidential, no obligation, fixed-fee initial appointment with an expert family lawyer to discuss your situation and explore your options.
You may or may not literally resolve your family law matter at the kitchen table. If you are both amicable and getting along well then this could be a very viable option to settle your matter.
It may still be worthwhile to think about seeking advice from a family lawyer on options for documenting your agreement and any future enforceability. Settlements need to be documented properly so that you finalise your financial relationship. You don’t want something like this to happen.
Where things are less amicable or one or both of you have adopted a position that the other doesn’t agree to, you may choose to engage a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. This can be a very effective option where your family lawyer has functional working relationships with other practitioners that are used to working together to quickly reach resolution and achieve the best outcomes for their clients.
Keep in mind that negotiation can also eventuate in delays, anxiety and misunderstandings, lead to compromise, and become quite lengthy and costly.
Collaborative law is an alternate form of dispute resolution for family law matters without going to court. It will put you and your ex-partner in the driver’s seat and allow you to craft a more meaningful outcome for your family following separation. Find out more about collaborative law[i] and if it is a viable option for you.
[i] Link to collaborative law page
A round table conference involves a confidential meeting with you, your former partner and your respective lawyers with a view to discussing and resolving your family law matter. You don’t need to literally be at the same table, or even a round table, rather it is a means of speeding up negotiations between you both and your lawyers. This is beneficial in getting to the heart of matters quickly and reducing a potentially long, drawn-out, costly negotiation process.
Mediation is a process where an independent and neutral third party assists you to generate options, negotiate and reach a decision. A mediator cannot impose a decision on you. Instead, they will work with parties to explore the issues in depth, reality test proposals and reach the best possible joint decision in the circumstances. This decision can then be formalised by an agreement or court order.
Mediation is generally a quicker and more cost-effective option than going to court and can be appropriate at many different stages of your family law journey. It is also a confidential “without prejudice” process where anything that is said, or offers that are made, cannot later be used in court proceedings.
You can engage in mediation privately or through your family lawyer. Find out more about mediation through Best Wilson Buckley here[i], or learn more about private mediation not involving lawyers at our BWB Mediations[ii] page.
[i] Link to Mediation page
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a mediation process for parenting matters. This option requires parents to make a “genuine effort” to resolve disputes and is mandated under the Family Law Act as a requirement before commencing proceedings for parenting orders. Some exceptions apply in situations involving domestic and family violence or in urgent circumstances.
FDR works in much the same way as mediation and can be accessed through government funded agencies such as the Family Relationships Centre[i], Centacare[ii], Catholic Care, Relationships Australia or through private practitioners.
Arbitration is a process where parties present their arguments and evidence to an arbitrator, rather than a judge, who then makes a binding decision to resolve the dispute. That decision is then delivered in the form of an “award” that is recognisable and enforceable in much the same way as an order of the court is.
While this method of dispute resolution has been around in legal settings for many years, arbitration in family law is a relatively new process that is starting to gain traction as timeframes for the Family Courts continue to extend. Arbitration is primarily used to deal with issues such as property and financial settlements and spousal maintenance. It does not extend to parenting matters.
This is an option in circumstances where an amicable resolution is unlikely, or following an unresolved mediation, and both parties consent to arbitration instead of litigation.
Undoubtedly the biggest benefits of arbitration are timeliness and flexibility where it offers:
- the ability for the parties to choose the arbitrator and be more in control of the process;
- more flexibility than the courts;
- less formality than court proceedings before a judge;
- not needing to wait for an allocated hearing date as most arbitrators are private practitioners;
- not being turned away from a final hearing if no judge is available to hear the matter;
- upfront understanding and transparency of costs;
- a decision provided by the arbitrator within 28 days;
- a decision that is final and capable of being enforced.
We consider the skills required to effectively negotiate, collaborate and mediate to be equally as important as our capacity to litigate.
Family law proceedings are a source of dismay in the media and our society, whether it be the lengthy delays in our system at present, exploring alternatives to going to court, or the cost that this can bring to families at an already difficult time. For those reasons and the fact that the decision is taken out of your hands and into the hands of a judge, it is understandable that going to court is not often a preferred option. In an ideal world no one would ever need to proceed to court in their family law matter; allowing you to protect your children, reduce costs and maintain an ongoing relationship that honours your past together.
The reality is that sometimes there is no other option. Our team work in the family law system every day and many of those days involve litigating in either the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court. As a result, we provide insight and understanding to our clients about this system that only an expert can. If you think this option may be what is needed for your family law matter, contact our team to find out how we can assist you in this process.
Find out more about family law litigation here.