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Negotiate with Integrity: Be proactive, not reactive

brynne allenMaking the decision to attend upon a lawyer and seek advice does not mean you are going to Court. In most cases, Court is the last option to be considered.

During your initial consultation with a lawyer, you will primarily be providing the lawyer with a snapshot of your current circumstances and your issues of concern, whether they be parenting or financial issues.

From the information that you provide, the lawyer will then be providing you with advice on a number of relevant issues including, possible parenting arrangements, just and equitable property divisions, child support and spousal maintenance issues, as well as options as to how best reach an agreement and resolve the issues raised pragmatically.

There are various options available to resolve your family law matter. Here are some common ways to suit a variety of needs and budgets listed in terms of cost effectiveness.

1. Negotiations

a. “Kitchen table” conversations:
Parties can sit down together and reach agreement without solicitors. Parties will need solicitors to assist in formalising the Agreement reached.

b. Lawyer to Lawyer:
Parties engage solicitors to negotiate on their behalf. Proposals for settlement are made. Party works with their solicitor to generate options and attempt to reach an agreement.

2. Mediation

a. Family Relationships Centre:
Government funded organisations. An independent mediator works with, and assists parties, in facilitating conversation and reaching agreement. Parties must participate in mediation (known as family dispute resolution) prior to initiating parenting proceedings in Court, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

b. Private Mediation:
An independent mediator is engaged to assist parties to reach agreement. Costs associated with this option, but usually a more thorough and effective mediation.

3. Round Table Conference

The Parties and their solicitors attend a mutually convenient time and location (usually the office of one of the solicitors) and the parties negotiate an agreement with assistance of their solicitors present.

4. Collaborative Practice

Collaborative Practice offers parties a holistic and interest-based approach to negotiation over the course of a number of meetings.

Each party must be represented by a solicitor. If one party commences contested Court proceedings, both parties must engage new solicitors.

The parties may also engage mental health and financial professionals during the process. Their engagement must terminate upon the commencement of any contested Court proceedings.

5. Arbitration

Parties engage an independent third person called an “arbitrator” – usually a retired Judge or Barrister – and the parties present their case to the arbitrator. After hearing the opposing cases and evidence, the arbitrator makes a determination.

This option can be just as costly as commencing proceedings however there are less time constraints in the process.

6. Initiate proceedings

Commencing litigation is the last resort if parties have been unable to reach Agreement. However, it is important to note that it may be appropriate in some circumstances to initiate proceedings in the first instance depending on the urgency of circumstances and the co-operation or lack thereof, of the other party.

Carew Counsel can provide advice and guidance with any of these available options as your family law matter evolves.

Reviewed Date: 04 Aug 2016

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