Part 1- Early Mediation in Family Law Disputes

Part 1- Early Mediation in Family Law Disputes

If you (or someone you know) is going through a relationship separation and there is at least some dispute which is proving to be (or may likely become) problematic, then you may like to read on and consider whether you need some further advice about your situation.

Separation is often an emotionally difficult process and the legal aspects of a separation can be daunting. As such, it is important to understand the preliminary legal steps or procedures which are ordinarily required to be taken before making an application to the courts.

Except for certain matters which are exempt (for example where this is family violence or a risk of harm to children) legislation requires that parties to parenting and/or relationship property matters attempt to resolve disputes using family dispute resolution services, before applying to the court for parenting and property orders. This is broadly referred to as mediation although the types and styles of services do vary between providers.

As such, if mediation is appropriate, it will ordinarily be sensible to engage in it. The objectives of mediation are primarily to:

  1. encourage full and frank financial disclosure in property matters at an early stage (eg providing bank statements, tax returns and so on) by each party with the intention of getting both parties ‘on the same page’;
  2. help to resolve differences, and where possible, avoid subsequent legal action through the courts;
  3. assist the parties to identify the real issues in a dispute and not get bogged down in side or trivial issues which not be overly important in the bigger scheme of things; and
  4. help the parties seek orders that are fair and reasonable.

Many parenting and property matters can be resolved by mediation and that is why it is regarded as a preferred initial method. You have the option of attending a private mediation or using a government-funded service such as Relationships Australia. We can offer referrals to both as appropriate if needs be.

In summary, engaging in mediation at an early stage is helpful for many people and can potentially significantly reduce (or even sometimes eliminate altogether) the amount of time and money which may otherwise be spent on litigation. Did we mention the stress saving of resolving matters fairly promptly and not have them drag out over many months or even years?

Finally, if you have read this far and think that you will need some practical advice about your situation or some assistance in relation to your situation, then now is probably the time to get in touch. Austral Legal can help and we offer an initial discounted 30-minute SmartMove appointment for $80 by phone or in person at our office to discuss your situation.

Bookings can be made online or simply by phoning our office on 08 9745 9550. Once we have a handle on what is required, we may well be able to offer a fixed fee for any further legal services, giving you cost certainty from the start. Austral Legal. Practical advice.

Stay informed on related matters by reading our next instalment Part 2- What comes after Mediation.