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Mediation and dispute resolution in general refer to the processes or services that assist parties in dispute resolve their dispute without needing to go to court.  In the context of family law, dispute resolution is aimed at resolving the dispute between 2 parties regarding matters such as arrangements for children post-separation or financial issues.   

The Family Court system regards mediation or dispute resolution as the ideal option when it comes to family disputes as it allows parties to settle disputes quickly, less stressfully, and cheaply.  The Court also considers this option beneficial because it allows parties to decide on their own terms how property might be divided or how children will be taken care of.  Taking your matter to Court will likely mean that you have less say over such matters because it will be judges who ultimately make those decisions for you.   

In family law cases, parties must make a genuine effort to resolve their disputes through mediation or dispute resolution services before going to Court.  Where separating parties have children, Courts cannot hear an application for parenting orders unless parties have a certificate from an accredited family dispute practitioner stating that they have tried their best to resolve their dispute.   

That being said, the Courts will understand that in some circumstances, it may be impractical for parties to attend mediation or dispute resolution.  Such instances might arise where: 

  • the matter requires urgency; 
  • there are reasonable grounds to believe that family violence or child abuse has occurred or will occur; 
  • a party is unable to effectively participate due to issues such as geographical location or incapacity; or 
  • a party has in the past contravened and shown a disregard for court orders or court processes.   

Parties might also not need to undertake the mediation or dispute resolution option if they are amicable and are formalising an agreement through what is known as consent orders.   

It is important to obtain legal advice before entering a mediation or dispute resolution, so parties understand what their rights and obligations are.  Lawyers can also help explain to parties the law that might be applicable in their cases.  At Straits Lawyers, we can help explain the process to you, as well as your rights and obligations.  We can also help you come to an agreement with your former spouse or partner without the long, expensive and stressful experience of attending Court.  Email us at info@straitslawyers.com or call at 08 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment.  

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.