Dispute Resolution – Why do I need it?

Dispute Resolution – Why do I need it?

Article Published:
January 3, 2022

Separation can be a tricky time for most families, even in the most amicable of circumstances. After all, how does one even begin to boil down an entire relationship, household, or family into a series of dot points about the shall and shall-not-do’s of life moving forward?

But, for better or for worse, in (relationship) sickness and in health, the reality is this: you are the most important decision-maker in your life. And this is where Dispute Resolution is key.

Court - emotionally trying & expensive

Taking your former partner to court is a taxing process – it is emotionally trying, it is financially expensive, and, in Australia, parties can historically find themselves two to four years into attending court before they reach the stage of having a full hearing before a Judge. Once that final hearing begins, the decision-making is no longer in either party’s hands – the Judge presiding over the hearing has the final say about who your child lives with, how much time they spend with you, the sale of your family home and property, and how it is all divided.

Dispute Resolution methods, on the other hand, empower you to negotiate decisions that are more accommodating of your family unit’s unique circumstances and needs, while still operating in the framework of the Family Law Act 1975 and of what the Court will deem to be just, equitable and appropriate. The financial costs of attending dispute resolution are lower than the total cost you would spend litigating a court matter from start to end, and the process is much shorter than the length of an average court case.

Separation can be a tricky time for most families, even in the most amicable of circumstances.

Currently, the family law system in Australia has a pre-requisite requirement for parents to attempt Family Dispute Resolution to resolve parenting disputes before they can start a parenting case (with some exceptions in the event of family violence and child abuse matters).There was no similar pre-requisite for property and financial disputes post-separation. This has now changed. All parties need to show that they have taken genuine steps to resolve their dispute before filing an application in the Court.

Recently in September 2021, changes were introduced to the court system that saw the formerFederal Circuit Court of Australia and former Family Court of Australia merge into one unified new court: the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (“the Court”).

With this merger, new changes were introduced around how family law parenting and property cases would be managed by the Court. Key amongst those changes is that parties in all family law cases filed in the Court after 1 September 2021 will be directed to participate in DisputeResolution within five months of their first court date.

This means that if you did not attempt a form of alternative dispute resolution before starting court proceedings for parenting and/or property matters, the Court will direct you to try DisputeResolution anyway within the court process itself. Knowing this, it is important to give thought to what alternative dispute resolution options are best for you and your family before thinking about going to a court.

Contact our friendly team today for advice and information about how I relate. CollaborativeFamily Law can assist you in negotiating and resolving your family law matters.