What are my alternatives to going to court?

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Alternatives to Court

Many separating couples prefer to keep their divorce out of the courts – and there are many other options available. Solicitor-led negotiation, mediation and the collaborative process are all different ways of making arrangments for children or your finances.

DIY Negotiation

Negotiating your agreement directly with your ex-partner can be the cheapest and the easiest way to a settlement. If you’re on good terms, communicate well and trust each other enough to agree on dividing property and make arrangements for your children then, this is the best option.

You may find it helpful to have legal advice at the beginning and throughout the negotiating process. This is to make sure that you understand your rights and the implications of any decisions that you reach.

We can then ensure that your agreement is drafted into a legally binding document, arrange for all relevant signing and file with the family court, where appropriate.

Family Mediation & Family Dispute Resolution

You won’t be able to make an application for a Parenting Order in the family court without having attended mediation and obtaining S.60I Certificate from an FDRP.

Your Mediator is impartial and will not provide legal advice to you or to your ex-partner but helps you go through your issues, explore options, negotiate, and come to an agreement.

Our Principal Lawyer & Director is a Nationally Accredited Mediator, and an Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, who is authorised to issue S.60I Certificates.

My Family Mediation is our dedicated website which provides detailed information about mediation and how this can help you, where we are appointed as your Mediator.

If we act in our capacity as your Solicitor, we can help you prepare and represent you at mediation with another provider.

Solicitor-Led Negotiation

Solicitor-led negotiation can help you reach an agreement with your ex-partner. When you appoint your family lawyer, s/he will focus on your best interest and negotiate with your ex-partners’ Solicitor. Negotiated outcomes are based on what the court is likely to award you.

Many cases reach satisfactory conclusions when using this approach, which can be used alongside other processes such as mediation.

Collaborative Divorce

In collaborative practice, you and your ex-partner retain your own collaboratively trained lawyers. Your lawyers, enter into an agreement and agree not to represent you in court, in the event, settlement cannot be reached. A team of collaboratively trained professionals are put together to assist you in reaching an agreement. This can include a financial advisor or child specialist, for example.

The collaborative approach only works if you and your ex-partner have a genuine desire to reach a fair agreement for the whole of the family. You must be respectful, open and honest about your financial information and all matters requiring resolution.

Unlike solicitor-led negotiations, you, your ex-partner and your respective lawyers will sit down and discuss your concerns. This is known as a four-way meeting. The number of sessions can vary but typically are between 3-5. You get to set the agenda and the pace.

Collaborative practice provides a positive, respectful and supportive alternative to resolve your issues.

Our Principal Lawyer & Director is a collaboratively trained lawyer and a full member of the Queensland Association of Collaborative Practitioners (QACP) – the leading association for collaboratively-trained professionals in Queensland.

Going to Court

Going to court is always an option, but it should be one of last resort. This may happen where negotiations or mediation has failed to resolve all or some of your issues.

Sometimes using the court process can’t be avoided. For example, if your ex-partner refuses to return your children to you or where there is domestic violence, or that the matter is urgent.

Once an application is made to the court, it will issue a formal timetable of next steps. If the court process reaches what is called the final hearing, the court has broad discretion to reach a final decision and make a Court Order, based on what the judge thinks fair.

Our lawyers can support you through the court process. We can help you reach a fair outcome, as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, and with the least amount of stress for you and your family.

What are my alternatives to going to court? 1

Author: Ashma Arora

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