The highs and lows of Christmas

  • December 21, 2018

For most of us, Christmas is a happy if somewhat exhausting time. It is a time when there is more opportunity to meet with family and friends and, for most of us, it is very enjoyable. For some, however, it is a difficult and stressful time and for those who are already facing marital problems it can be a tipping point which gives rise to a new year’s resolution not to allow another year to go past without ending the relationship.

If you know anyone who is in that situation their stress will probably be compounded by the fact that delays in the Family court and the Federal Circuit court to sort out marital difficulties are enormous. The time to get a hearing can be measured in years rather than months and lives are on hold in many cases while the court matter drags on.

It is worth considering some alternatives to the family court process for those who are struggling to resolve family law disputes. The most common alternatives are mediation, collaborative law and arbitration.

Mediation is a process in which an independent third party assists the parties to resolve conflicting issues. Normally mediators will be trained lawyers but they won’t advise either party. Instead they will try to broker a deal that can be lived with by both parties. Mediators can’t impose a settlement but, once a settlement is reached, it can be signed and filed with the Family court to produce binding orders.

Compared to a lengthy and drawn out court battle it is a quick and inexpensive method to try to resolve family law disputes.

Collaborative Law
This involves negotiating on a face to face basis with the ex-partner with the help of a lawyer. The process is very different to the adversarial approach that is the hallmark of contested court proceedings and collaborative lawyers are trained in methods to best assist parties to reach agreement. As with mediation, once an agreement is reached is can be filed in the Family court as a binding order. If agreement is not reached and the parties want to proceed with Family court proceedings they must each choose a new lawyer to represent them.

Arbitration involves a legally trained and qualified arbitrator who will hear each party’s submissions and consider the evidence each party wants to adduce and then make a binding and impartial decision.

Unlike mediation and collaborative law, the arbitrator’s decision is imposed on the parties and is binding on both. Arbitration is presently limited to financial cases rather than parenting disputes.

Arbitration shares the benefit of being much quicker and less expensive than traditional Family court proceedings.

We have a team of 8 lawyers who practice in family law – 3 of whom are accredited specialists in family law and all are familiar with the methods outlined above. If you or anyone you know requires assistance in any aspect of family law please don’t hesitate to contact us at or on (02) 9525 8688.



Greg Dickson
B.Juris. LL.M.
CEO & Accredited Specialist in Family / De Facto Law
Telephone: 9525 8688
Facsimile: 9526 2608