Alternative Dispute Resolution

1. Have you and your former partner been able to negotiate a property settlement?

In the event that you and your former spouse/partner have reached an amicable agreement as to your financial separation, you will need to obtain advice as to whether the terms of your agreement are ‘just and equitable’ in all the circumstances of your particular matter under the relevant legislation so that you may formalise your Agreement by way of a Family Court order.

If your settlement agreement is not in terms that the Family Court would approve, you may formalise your property settlement agreement by way of a binding Financial Agreement. Both parties to the Financial Agreement will require independent legal advice from a family law solicitor as to their respective rights and entitlements, and the advantages and disadvantages to each of them of entering into the Agreement, prior to signing the Agreement.

Call Lotus Legal on (08) 9305 9529 to obtain advice as to your rights and entitlements.

2. Are you about to attend alternative dispute resolution in relation to your parenting or property settlement matters?

Alternative dispute resolution comes in a variety of forms, and can assist parties in settling their parenting and property settlement disputes prior to or during Family Court proceedings. Examples of ADR include:

Family Dispute Resolution (‘FDR’)

Prior to the commencement of any parenting proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia, parties are required to attend FDR. Exemptions to this requirement can include:

  • where parties are formalising an agreement through the filing of consent orders with the Family Court;
  • where family violence or child abuse is a factor;
  • when parties are responding to an application before the Family Court;
  • urgency;
  • where a person is unable to participate effectively (for example, due to incapacity or geographical location), or
  • where a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.

FDR is conducted by a neutral and accredited Family Dispute Resolution practitioner who assists separating families in coming to their own agreements. During FDR, parties will discuss the issues in dispute and consider different options, while being encouraged to focus on the needs of their children.

If parties can reach agreement at FDR as to all or certain matters, the FDR Practitioner can assist in formulating a parenting plan setting out the future parenting arrangements which may be used as the basis of the filing of consent orders with the Family Court.

FDR is a practical and low cost way for separating families to sort out future parenting arrangements with professional help.

Conciliation Conference

A Conciliation Conference is a Court appointed event during the progression of your Family Court matter and is conducted by a Registrar of the Family Court. The aim of a Conciliation Conference is to assist parties in reaching an agreement on the financial issues arising from separation and, if there are also parenting issues, to help resolve them. Parties are expected to make a genuine effort to reach an agreement at the Conciliation Conference.

Prior to attending the Conciliation Conference, you will be required to comply with any interim orders made by the Court, such as obtaining any valuations and providing full and frank disclosure of your financial circumstances. You will also be required to produce specific documents to the other party and the Court.

If parties can reach agreement at a Conciliation Conference as to all or certain matters, the Court Registrar will make orders in those terms at the Conference or otherwise direct that one of the parties provides the Court with consent orders setting out the agreed terms.

Mediation Style Conference (‘MSC’)

An MSC is a formal conference convened between parties and their respective family lawyers before an appropriately qualified Mediator. An MSC provides an opportunity for separating parties to reach an agreement on various issues, including both parenting and financial matters, in a private setting. Rather than imposing an outcome, it is the mediator’s role to assist the parties to the MSC in compromising and generating their own agreements.

An MSC is generally scheduled as a full day or half day meeting. All participants agree upfront that they are willing to mediate (negotiate) with the intended outcome being that an agreement is reached and final consent orders entered into.

Informal Settlement Conference

Separating parties may also consider attending an informal settlement conference with their respective family law solicitors in an attempt to resolve their property settlement matters in a cost-effective manner prior to any further action, such as the commencement of Family Court proceedings. You will need to discuss whether this approach is suitable in all the circumstances of your matter with your family lawyer.

How can we help?

In each of the above ADR scenarios, it is important that you go in fully informed and aware of your rights and entitlements. Lotus Legal can provide you with the appropriate family law legal advice, help with negotiating and drafting any agreements reached, and will provide you with support throughout the whole process.

Resolving the matter at any of the above stages will save on further legal and Court costs – including that of a trial.

Give Lotus Legal a call on (08) 9305 9529 to obtain advice as to whether Alternative Dispute Resolution is appropriate in all the circumstances of your matter.

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