This year the Family Law Courts announced that 2,000 cases nationally have been in the court system for over 18 months. The current time from filing documents in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia (the Family Law Courts) to attending an interim hearing can be as long as 6 months or more even for matters considered urgent. For a final hearing the wait is around usually 2 years and can be as much as 3 or 4 years.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family Law Courts are not fully operational and we are already seeing the further delays this has caused. As a result, parties seeking judicial outcomes will continue to face extensive delays. Even where the Court will hear urgent applications, the interim decisions made often offer a ‘band-aid’ solution only pending a final hearing years later.
At WMD Law we understand that our clients want to avoid lengthy and expensive court proceedings to resolve their family law matters. Delay can often cost much more than money, especially in matters involving children. We are dedicated to resolving family law disputes through alternatives to litigation. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative law processes, can help achieve an affordable and speedy resolution to disputes. They also allow the parties to have greater control of the outcome of their matter and tailor a solution to their circumstances rather than have a decision imposed upon them which is often what neither party is seeking.
Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution assist parties to resolve their own agreements. Qualified mediators facilitate a discussion between parties about their issues and the potential ways to resolve these issues. They encourage the parties to come to an agreement on future parenting arrangements that are in the best interests of the child or children and to compromise to achieve workable financial solutions for both parties, often bringing together solutions that are outside the jurisdiction of the Courts to consider. Any communication during mediation is confidential (unless a disclosure is made concerning a threat to someone’s life or health, criminal activity or child abuse).
Family Dispute Resolution is a compulsory first step in parenting matters (with some exceptions) to ensure parties have made a genuine effort to resolve their dispute before applying to the Court for parenting orders. If successful, an agreement can be formalised and made binding by filing an application for consent orders. This is by far the cheapest and quickest way to achieving binding parenting orders. If family dispute resolution is unsuccessful, the parties will be issued with a certificate that is required to commence court proceedings, but mediation is still a preferable option in many matters to avoid the delay and cost of the court process, even when court proceedings are already on foot.
At WMD Law, we have collaborative lawyers, a qualified mediator and both male and female accredited specialists in family law. We are not a “family law firm” that runs family law matters to fund a business. We are a commercial firm with a focus on achieving the best outcome for our clients by removing them from unnecessary litigation. We have a proud record of settling well over 95% of all family law matters without going to court. In matters where court proceedings are commenced over 95% of these are settled prior to a final hearing.
If you need any assistance in relation to your parenting or property matter, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced family lawyers to discuss how we can help you resolve your family law matter.