In most legal matters where negotiations have broken down between parties and issues are unable to be resolved a court is the only body that can resolve the dispute.
In family law matters, we are directed to the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (the Court). It is no secret that the Court is burdened by delay and it is not uncommon for parties to wait up to three years for their matter to be determined by a judge.
There are however a number of things you can do in order to avoid the delay and the unnecessary expense that comes with Court proceedings.
Obtain legal advice from a specialist family lawyer as soon as possible. At Tiyce & Lawyers, we offer obligation free initial consultations.
Family Dispute Resolution
Attend a Family Dispute Resolution service (FDR). In most circumstances, parties are required to attend on a FDR practitioner before they can commence parenting proceedings in the Court.
If you resolve your dispute through FDR, Tiyce & Lawyers can help you formalise your agreement by preparing and filing an Application for Consent Orders in the Family Court of Australia.
Urgent Court Hearings
If your matter is urgent and unable to be resolved, there are steps Tiyce & Lawyers can take to have your matter heard urgently in the Court.
In parenting cases, this is often about one parent withholding a child or issues of risk.
In property cases, this is often about a spouse dissipating money or a party being left in a financially vulnerable position.
At the end of the year, the Court hears urgent parenting applications in relation to the upcoming Christmas school holiday period. If a party requires the court to determine an issue about Christmas holiday time then they need to file an application to the Court on or before 4:00pm on the second Friday in November.
In obtaining an urgent hearing, it is important to identify the urgency. Whilst it seems obvious, we at Tiyce & Lawyers come across many clients who should have acted months and sometimes years earlier. Often they are criticised by the Court for acquiescing to the delay and in some circumstances the Courts will not entertain an urgent hearing for this reason.
If you think your matter is urgent, call Tiyce & Lawyers immediately. We’re here when you need us.
Mediation, Arbitration and Settlement Conferences
Once a matter has commenced in the Court and interim orders have been made, the issues that remain in dispute are often narrowed. The Court will order or recommend that the parties attend mediation, arbitration or a settlement conference.
Mediation is a formal process where the parties and their solicitors meet with an experienced family law mediator to try to reach an agreement. If an agreement is reached it will be in the form of a ‘Minute of Consent Order’ which will have the same legal force as if it had been made by the Court.
Arbitration is similar to a final hearing. After the parties give evidence and submissions, an independent arbitrator, who is usually an experienced solicitor or barrister, will make a binding decision which is registered with the Court.
Financial conciliation conferences
In property matters, the Court will order the parties to attend a conciliation conference, involving the parties, their solicitors and a Registrar of the court. The Registrar cannot make a decision however they do give recommendations about to how to settle the matter and what they think the Court would do at final hearing.
The benefit of a resolution is that any agreement can then be the subject of orders which the Registrar can usually make at the conclusion of the conciliation conference.
Parenting and property settlement conferences
In 2017, the Court introduced a new conferencing process in select matters awaiting allocation for hearing. Where a matter has both parenting and property applications before the court, a joint conference with a Court employed counsellor and a Registrar is arranged. The Court counsellor will attempt to assist the parties in parenting matters and the registrar will attempt to assist the parties in both parenting and property matters.
Similar to a financial conciliation conference, the benefit of a resolution is that any agreement can then be the subject of orders which the Registrar can usually make at the conclusion of the conference.
If you are having trouble with your parenting or property matter, please contact our team at Tiyce & Lawyers.
We’re here when you need us.