Alternative Dispute Resolution
A resolution arrived at with the involvement of both parties often results in a more satisfactory outcome for the parties than a court-imposed Order. Settlements reached through alternative dispute resolution processes also often save parties the time, cost and stress involved in prolonged litigation. In cases where there are children involved, resolving the dispute out of court has a better chance of preserving the ongoing parenting relationship for the benefit of the children.
There are a number of processes that parties can use to resolve their family law disputes outside of the lengthy and costly court process. These are explained below.
Negotiation between the parties and their counsel can be an effective way of resolving matters ranging from simple to complex.
Though many people often associate the involvement of lawyers with added expense, the fact is that the involvement of experienced family law counsel can streamline the issues and the discussion between the parties, and create a structured process including the exchange of financial disclosure that can help parties resolve their matters faster and with knowledge of their rights and entitlements. Negotiations between parties that does not include financial disclosure and knowledge of rights, entitlements and obligations can drag on and result in unfair and one-sided agreements that may have to be re-opened at the independent legal advice stage.
We can assist you with negotiations that follow the routine exchange of full and complete financial disclosure, and fully advise you as to your rights and entitlements throughout the negotiation process to help you reach a fair and reasonable agreement resulting in a properly drafted separation agreement or consent court Order.
Mediation involves discussion between the parties and a neutral professional to facilitate discussion, guide the parties through complex issues and work towards an amicable resolution.
Should you determine that mediation would be appropriate for your matter and your family, we can assist you through all stages of the mediation process from initial consultations about your rights and entitlements, independent legal advice throughout the mediation process, to the final resolution of the matter through a separation agreement.
Mediation can be a very effective process, and when tailored to the specific needs of the parties, can result in a more amicable and cost-effective agreement between the parties than could be achieved through litigation.
Mediation may not be effective or appropriate in all circumstances, in which case there are other resolution options available to you. Speak with a family lawyer about whether the mediation process would be appropriate for your circumstances.
Mediation/arbitration involves retaining a neutral mediator that will assume the role of an arbitrator should the initial mediation not result in an agreement on any or all of the issues.
Where there are issues involving children, parenting professionals can be consulted and retained to help parents work out a child-focused parenting plan. Professionals with a background in child development or a similar field can assist parents in working out a plan that serves the best interests of the child(ren) at the different stages of their lives, while maximizing contact and maintaining a relationship with each parent. We have experience in negotiating parenting plans with the assistance of parenting and child professionals.
Parties can use a combination of any of these processes to arrive at a settlement, which can be incorporated into a binding separation agreement.