The Background: In many cases, parties may need assistance in trying to resolve their difficulties and be unable to reach agreement, but would prefer not to have to make an application to the Court. Also, before making certain applications to the court the parties will be expected to refer the issues arising to mediation, to see if the problems can be resolved without the need for court proceedings. There are now a number of approved mediation agencies available.
The Procedure: We will assist you with the initial referral if you would like us to do so. Thereafter the mediation agency will make contact with both parties to establish the suitability of the case for mediation.
If the case is found not to be suitable for mediation, or if the mediation process breaks down with no agreement having been reached, then we will consider your options with you.
If mediation results in agreement, we will then discuss with you whether that agreement needs to be converted into a formal document or Court order.
While you are going through the mediation process, it is helpful if you keep in touch with us to let us know how things are going. Solicitors do not attend the mediation appointments. You are fully entitled to come back to us for advice during the mediation process.
An Arbitration Panel has been established to offer clients another alternative to court proceedings. The parties choose an arbitrator from the Panel. The arbitrator will decide on the format and timetable, based on the nature of the dispute to be resolved. The court procedures are less flexible and not necessarily geared to the areas of dispute that need to be resolved. In arbitration the parties will identify what is in dispute and the arbitration process will be set up to fit the circumstances of that particular case. The court tends to operate on a standard “one size fits all” basis, but often that size is quite wrong for the individual case and the process does not fit at all.
Arbitration is in its early days, and it remains to be seen to what extent it becomes a popular means of resolving Family Law disputes.