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How Do I Avoid The Family Courts – Part 1

About Alternative Dispute Resolution

With the very long waiting lists to have your matter heard in the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is on the rise.  It works and it is cheaper for everyone.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is just that.  It is a range of pathways outside of the Courts designed to help parties end their disagreements away from the Court.

The underlying ethos of most ADR processes is to provide parties with a level of self-determination by allowing parties put forward proposals giving the other party an opportunity to respond.


Professional mediation was hailed as the best method to achieve self-determination when it was introduced an began being widely used more than 40 years ago.

Unfortunately the people who the decisions made will affect the most, the parties to the dispute, are now largely voiceless in the process.

Round-table mediation or, mediation in the one room, was designed to allow parties (and their legal representative if appropriate) to discuss their needs and wants and make proposals to the other party who could then respond with a view to reaching agreements that suited each party.  Unfortunately the more recently devised “shuttle mediation” whereby parties do not actually see each other sit in separate rooms and the mediators moves between has large become the dominant style of modern mediators (in the author’s opinion).

This means that parties do not have the opportunity to sit and discuss their options and these are the people who know their situation the best.  This begs the question has mediation lost its core value; self-determination.  Well the answer is maybe.

Another process than has been developing in the past two decades around the world and gaining more popularity in Australia more recently is Collaborative Law (especially in the Family Law context).

Read Charles’ next article on the his first review of ADR – Collaborative Family Law.