No doubt you have all seen the reports in the media lately about the delays that are occurring in the Family Court – well it’s true. The present waiting time in Wollongong for Family Law matters is about two years – and in other places it is even worse!
Two possible ways to avoid these delays (not to mention the extra costs involved) is to agree to engage in mediation or arbitration.
Mediation involves the parties (and their lawyers if they are already instructed) meeting with a qualified mediator whose task it is to try to help them settle their matter by agreement. Often the parties are already in the Court system and mediation gives them a good opportunity to negotiate a settlement and to get on with their lives.
Mediation has the huge advantage of letting the parties control the outcome without letting their future be decided by a stranger and can often achieve much greater flexibility in the outcomes that can be negotiated when compared with a court orders.
Arbitration involves the parties entering into a private agreement to have their matter decided by a qualified Family Law Arbitrator. When you think about it, arbitration allows the parties to pick their own “judge” and to focus only on the real issues that need a decision.
Arbitration has been used for many years in other courts to resolve complicated commercial disputes and recently the Family Law Act was amended to strengthen the role of arbitration and to encourage the parties involved in Family Law disputes to take advantage of the opportunity to have their matter arbitrated.
As well as having the advantage of being able to choose your own arbitrator the other huge advantages are a guaranteed outcome on a guaranteed date and at a great cost saving when compared with a court hearing.
Jeff David, one of our Family Law partners, is qualified by AIFLAM (the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators) as both a Mediator and Arbitrator and regularly has matters referred to him by other solicitors. If someone you know has a Family Law problem you might suggest that they consider taking advantage of the opportunity to have their matter referred to either mediation or arbitration.