Many people take their family law matter to court because they believe that this is the only solution available to them. However, this simply isn’t the case, and a number of alternatives are available that can cost you less money, take less time to conclude and cause you less financial strain. In this article, we will look at some alternatives to going to court.
Why Shouldn’t I Go to Court?
Although courts endeavour to have family law matters concluded within 12 months, this is rarely the case with contested matters, which can take between 2 and 4 years to resolve.
Court should still be considered as a valid option for your legal matter, but only as a last resort. At Life Law Solutions, we take all possible efforts to avoid a court date. This is because, as a firm, we believe that in most matters, there aren’t really any good outcomes that come out of going before the court.
Although going to court means that your matter will be settled, it often means that decisions are made by people who don’t know you and your family. It also often means that you’re forced to air your dirty laundry in public, which can make co-parenting arrangements tricky.
In addition, the court process can also be a lengthy, emotional and costly solution. As a direct result of this, you should exhaust all other avenues before you jump into the court system.
However, it should be noted that court can be unavoidable at times; especially if you’re served with a court application by your former partner, or there are particular issues such as allegations of abuse or where one parent wants to relocate the child interstate or overseas. Should this happen, we can represent you and guide you through the process.
What Are My Alternatives?
Before you make a decision about going to court, you should endeavour to receive as much detailed advice as possible about the options available to you.
Many people rush into sending their matter to court, believing that by doing so, they’ll be able to reach a final decisions and move on with their lives.
However, when you enter into your relationship, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever even consider whether it’s likely to breakdown. Due to this, it can be both surprising and heart-breaking if this does happen.
At this stage, you’re likely to feel highly emotionally charged at a time when potentially life changing decisions need to be made. As a result, before you make any decisions, you should take a moment to take on-board as much advice as possible.
You should use your friends and family as a sounding board for your thoughts and feelings. You can then also scour the internet for further information and knowledge, which will be incredibly important in helping you make an informed decision.
At this point, instead of attempting to take a matter straight to court, you should seek guidance from a lawyer who specialises in family law. A trained professional, such as a member of our team, will be able to provide you with tailored advice for your situation, including an assessment of realistic outcomes for your matter and an efficient strategy that’s aligned with your goals.
Alternatives to going to court include:
If you and your former partner mutually agree to not go to court, then collaborative law could be beneficial. Here, you work with your ex-partner to reach an agreement with the help of collaborative lawyers and other professionals, such as financial advisors.
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
Family Dispute Resolution is a formal process that facilitates a discussion between parties who have separated in an attempt to resolve a parenting or a property dispute. Only FDR practitioners such as lawyers and social workers can issue a certificate to indicate you made a proper attempt to solve your matter.
Some of these FDR processes involve a child inclusive process that runs alongside the FDR process. This allows your child to tell their part of the story and express their views.
This process uses confidential individual sessions between you and a mediator before beginning mediation sessions. Here, you will discuss the issues you believe are most important. Mediation sessions are often led by private practitioners.
Negotiation between lawyers can also resolve matters. If you do not like speaking with your ex-partner and your positions are not all that different, then negotiation through lawyers can be beneficial.
A private arbitrator can also be used to settle a matter. Appointed by both parties, this arbitrator can apply the principals set out in the Family Law Act 1975 in much the same way that the court would.
Ultimately, you may decide that court is the best option for you. However, before you make such a decision, you should explore each available option, as an alternative may save you time, money and emotional stress. If you have a family law matter and would like to avoid going to court, then please contact us to see how we can assist you.