Attending upon a lawyer and obtaining advice means you are appropriately preparing yourself to make informed decisions about your life moving forward. It does not necessarily mean you are going to Court. In most cases, Court is the last option to be considered.
During your initial conference with us, you will primarily be providing us with a snapshot of your current circumstances and your issues of concern, whether they be parenting or financial issues.
Based on the information that you provide in this conference, we will then be providing you with advice on a number of relevant issues including but not limited to, possible parenting arrangements, just and equitable property divisions, child support and spousal maintenance issues, as well as options as to how best reach an agreement and resolve the issues raised pragmatically.
There are various options available to resolve your family law matter. Here are some common ways to suit a variety of needs and budgets listed in terms of cost effectiveness.
- “Kitchen table” conversation
Parties can sit down together and reach agreement without solicitors. Parties should obtain legal advice as to how to appropriately finalise and formalise the agreement reached.
- Lawyer to Lawyer Negotiations
Parties engage solicitors to negotiate on their behalf. Parties work with their respective solicitors to generate options and attempt to reach an agreement. Proposals for settlement are exchanged between the parties.
- Mediation: Family Relationships Centre
These are usually conducted by Government funded organisations. An independent mediator works with, and assists parties, in facilitating conversation and reaching agreement. Parties must participate in mediation (known as family dispute resolution) prior to initiating parenting proceedings in Court unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- Private Mediation
An independent mediator, commonly a barrister that specialises in family law, is engaged to assist parties to reach agreement. There can be significant costs associated with this option however it is usually a more thorough and effective mediation.
- Round Table Conference
The Parties and their solicitors attend a mutually convenient location (usually the office of one of their solicitors) at an agreed time and the parties negotiate an agreement with the assistance of their solicitors, who are also present.
- Collaborative Practice
Collaborative Practice offers parties a holistic and interest-based approach to negotiation over the course of a number of meetings. Each party must be represented by a solicitor. If one party commences contested Court proceedings, both parties must engage new solicitors. The parties may also engage mental health and financial professionals during the process. Their engagement must terminate upon the commencement of any contested Court proceedings.
Parties engage an independent third person called an “arbitrator” – usually a retired Judge or Barrister – and the parties present their case to the arbitrator. After hearing the opposing cases and evidence, the arbitrator makes a determination. This option can be just as costly as commencing proceedings however there are less time constraints in the process.
- Initiate proceedings
Commencing litigation is the last resort if parties have been unable to reach Agreement. However, it is important to note that it may be appropriate in some circumstances to initiate proceedings in the first instance depending on the urgency of circumstances and the co-operation or lack thereof, of the other party.
Farrell Family Lawyers are here to assist you in understanding your legal options and assisting you in reaching a pragmatic resolution. If you require any advice and or guidance as your family law matter evolves, please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 8393 0142.