Is your lawyer giving you every opportunity to resolve your family dispute before it reaches the Family Court?

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Bringing proceedings in the Family Court is time consuming and expensive, with some disputes taking up to two years or more to resolve and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. It makes sense then that it is a path that should only be embarked upon once all other alternatives have been fully explored. This is where your lawyer comes in. It is their job to give you as much information as possible on the courses of action available for resolving your matter outside of the Family Court.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) sets out family dispute resolution and arbitration as some non-court-based processes for resolving family disputes. Arbitration is similar to a court process in the sense that a neutral party makes a determination, but has much more flexibility for the parties involved. You and the other party can choose your arbitrator, have a say in how the process is conducted and have your dispute resolved more quickly in a confidential forum. While Arbitration is typically only available to resolve financial disputes, it may also be possible for parties to resolve parenting disputes through Arbitration. For property disputes, Arbitration has been recognised in the Family law Act 1975 (Cth) as a ‘cheaper, quicker and more accessible dispute resolution procedure than court litigation’.[1]

Your lawyer has a duty to act in your best interests and to be frank and open with you about the possible courses available to you to resolve your matter.[2] The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) and Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) also require your lawyer to provide you with documents about non-court based family services, such as family dispute resolution and Arbitration.[3] At Avon Legal you can be reassured that we will provide you with all your alternatives.

If your lawyer has not spoken to you about Arbitration as an alternative to court proceedings, then not only are they falling down in their duty to you as their client but they are not complying with their obligations under family law legislation.

Don’t end up spending all your time and effort in the Family Court, without first having the opportunity to seek to resolve your dispute through alternative means at a fraction of the cost. Your best interests are to have your matter resolved as efficiently and as soon as possible.

If you are thinking about engaging a lawyer to assist in the resolution of your family dispute, or are about to start proceedings in the Family Court, make sure that you are aware of your options. The Family Court will always be there as a last resort, but there are ‘cheaper, quicker and more accessible’ opportunities out there available to you. At Avon Legal we are here to help you.

If you want to know more, then contact Avon Legal for an appointment on 9274 1977.

If you do not want to talk to a lawyer you may wish to contact The ADR Centre on 1300 237 237 for more information.

[1] Explanatory Memorandum, Family Law Amendment Bill 1999 (Cth) 1.
[2] Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010 (WA) rr 8, 10(1).
[3] Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) ss 12E(1), 12B(2); Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) r 6(1).

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