Family Mediation & Dispute Resolution
Court processes can take a long time, cost a lot of money and potentially inflame already stressful circumstances. At Thornton Storgato Law, we understand you need to be heard, but moreover, we aim to deliver closure to even the most complex matters without spending months to years in and out of courtrooms. Dispute resolution is a legal solution that brings everybody to the table to voice their qualms, points of contention, wants and needs, getting results in a matter of days, not years.
What is dispute resolution?
Outside the courtroom, dispute resolution falls into two categories – mediation and arbitration – and we regularly recommend both to our clients, depending on their unique circumstances.
The Different Types of Dispute Resolution
Mediation is removed from a legal setting, when a neutral third party sits with you and your former spouse to work out a solution that satisfies you both. The mediator works with both parties to explore and analyse underlying interests, needs, annoyances and non-negotiables to find alignment. Sometimes your former spouse will be in the room, but if you’d like to be mediated separately, it’s possible. The resulting agreement should be voluntary and sustainable and can be converted in binding orders.
Remember, you can choose your mediator. There’s a lot of former judges and current senior barristers in the Sydney area who are suited to exploring the most complex cases.
Arbitration is an underutilised provision in Family Law, wherein a neutral third party hears the specifics of your case from both sides before handing down a binding decision. Everything is on the table for discussion, exploration and negotiation. Ultimately, if you’re happy with the judgement of the arbitrator, it becomes binding and if not, we take the next step together. Often, arbitration results in closure for both parties, as they’ve had their moment to be heard.
When do you need a lawyer in dispute resolution matters?
Before diving into either mediation or arbitration, we recommend seeking legal advice. Not all cases are the same, so defining the best option going forward will take experienced insight and an awareness of how the Australian Family Law system works. Thornton Storgato will help you understand what your rights and responsibilities are, reviewing your case and identifying how the law applies to its specifics. We generally attend private mediation and arbitrations with clients, so if any agreement is reached binding orders can be drafted and signed.
Inside Dispute Resolution: Understanding the Process
What can I expect during a dispute resolution session?
Mediation can be conducted privately with an agreed mediator or through a Government funded authority such as Relationships Australia. They will remain impartial, listening and facilitating throughout the conversation, allowing everybody to have their say on all matters. A successful mediation session will:
- Identify and define key issues
- Encourage both parties to listen to the other without interruption or dismissal
- Exchange relevant information
- Honestly explore ideas and options
- Test potential plans
- Document decisions and agreements
How do you prepare for family dispute resolution?
Your first mediation can be a nervous experience, as you’ll be discussing your issues openly and honestly with your former spouse. Although the goal of any mediation process is the equitable and satisfactory resolution of a range of legal matters, including family law, the days leading up to it can still be stressful. On top of discussing your case with a family lawyer it is recommended to take the following actions to ready yourself for the days ahead.
- Write down what you’ve already agreed on – a positive starting point may help to set the tone of the mediation.
- Record what you need to agree on – this should help you guide the conversation according to your needs and the needs of your children, if custody arrangements are being explored.
- What’s important to you and why?
- What is important to your former spouse and why?
- When it comes to property, finances and assets, do you wish to retain a share or full ownership? Why should you over the other side? If you would like more than half, set out your reasons why
- When it comes to your kids – what arrangements need to be place to ensure their needs, wants and interests are being met?
- What are your key concerns and issues?
- Will you be representing yourself, or will Thornton Storgato Law be supporting you in the mediation room?
What are the benefits of mediation?
Everybody wants to be heard, particularly when family matters become brittle. Courts care about facts, precedent and what is fair within the definition of the law and how it applies to your case. While mediation is also driven by fairness and equity, it does not ignore the individual needs of the people involved or their desire to voice their story as they perceive it. A professional mediator, your legal team and the legal team of your former partner will work together to develop a responsive plan going forward. Other benefits of mediation include:
- Faster results and outcomes
- Informal compared to arbitration and litigation (going to court)
- You’re both actively involved in the process, creating a more sustainable long-term plan
- Mediation is confidential
- Mediation is less likely to infuriate or incense the other party, preserving civil communication and minimising the impact of discussions on children.
Should mediation fail or arbitration deliver a result that is not aligned with your expectations, our team is here to help you bring your matter before the court. Ensure you’re heard with Thornton Storgato Law.