Most family law matters will not see a final hearing. Now more popular than ever, family dispute resolution is providing an alternate to court room litigation which allows parties control, confidentiality, convenience, affordability and finality.
It is no secret that the family law courts are congested and highly worked. Once an intiating application has been filed, parties can expect to attend multiple case management hearings and then wait up to 12 months to reach the final hearing to plead their case before a judge. Irrespective of time, court proceedings can also be very expensive; costing thousands upon thousands in legal costs and court fees.
As a result, practitioners are advising toward and parties are opting for, dispute resolution forums such as mediation to achieve a just, quick and cheap resolution to determine their property and parenting disputes.
Mediation is the most popular form of dispute resolution. Mediation is a guided form of negotiation in which a mediator brings the parties together and leads discussions in an effort to resolve primary issues. Mediation also allows both individuals a chance to voice their opinion and be heard in a structured and neutral setting.
Noteworthy advantages to mediation for parties include:
1. Control – Mediation offers the individuals control over the outcome of their matter. While in a court room the judge will make a binding decision, mediation allows the parties to negotiate Consent Orders that both parties can live with in the long term.
2. Confidentiality – The parties, the solicitors and the mediator all sign confidentiality agreements before beginning a mediation. The advantage is that (apart from a mediator’s duty to disclose) all conversations in a mediation are confidential and away from the ears of an open court room.
3. Convenience/Finality – Both parties must agree on a mutually advantageous date and matters can be finalised and Consent Orders signed on the day of mediation, providing a sense of completion and finality.
4. Affordability – Mediation is generally cheaper than a contested hearing in court. Parties will still be required to pay solicitors costs and the parties will generally halve the costs of the mediator however, this is usually a set fee and can be a fraction of the cost of litigation.