Lucy Wood Family Law
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The Pathway to Resolution - "Are we nearly there yet?"

You know how it feels, you go on a long journey and the kids constantly ask “are we nearly there yet?” undoubtedly eager to reach the destination.

It’s not dissimilar in a family law case. We are most commonly asked “how long will this take?”  but it’s not always easy to answer this seemingly straightforward question. The honest answer is “it depends”. Each case is unique in its circumstances and as such will affect how quickly the matter can be resolved.

The first major factor which is likely to affect your case is the attitude adopted by you and the other party involved in the matter, and the level of co-operation provided.  Where parties can focus on relevant issues and remain committed to negotiating a just and equitable settlement or care arrangements which are best for the children, this usually enables matters to be resolved promptly. However, where one or both parties act to antagonise the other, fail to cooperate with reasonable requests, or disengage from the process this will usually result in the pathway to resolution taking longer. The attitude adopted by the parties may dictate how the matter progress. Here are the common stops along the way towards resolution:

1.    Identify the Issues and Options

You will need to meet with your lawyer to identify the relevant issues, some of which may need prompt attention, and to discuss possible options to resolve matters.

2.    Effective Communication with the Other Party

It is not a lawyer’s role to antagonise the situation. Rather, in family law, lawyers should focus on de-escalating disputes, encouraging clients to put their personal differences aside to begin negotiating a fair and appropriate outcome.

3.    Make a Proposal

There is often great utility in making an early offer of settlement provided it is well thought through, is viable and is made on a without prejudice basis.

Even if an early offer is not accepted, it can prompt a counter offer of settlement. This may serve to narrow the issues in dispute between parties, and clarify where each party stands.

4.    Mediation/Family Dispute Resolution

In order for both parties to come out of their respective trenches, there must be a willingness on both sides to resolve matters and make a genuine attempt to do so. Mediation or a round table discussion is often an excellent mechanism to resolve matters at an early stage, but there is a certain level of co-operation required from both parties so that settlement is achievable.

One of the many advantages of mediation is the great flexibility which it affords. It can unlock a range of possible solutions not otherwise available to a Court.

5.    Court

Sometimes, Court proceedings become necessary. You may have exhausted all possible alternatives without success, or there may be circumstances of urgency which dictate the need to go to Court.

The Court system should be viewed as a way of managing the dispute, and a structured pathway to an outcome. It should not be viewed as one party winning and the other losing. Court users often experience significant delays, costs and stress due to litigation. However, all is not lost. It is still possible to negotiate a settlement, attend mediation or arbitration at any stage during the Court process. It is typically better for the parties to decide and control the outcome of the dispute (with the assistance of legal advice and relevant professionals), rather than having the Court impose a decision on parties which may not be to either party’s liking.

Whatever path your matter may take, we passionately advocate for prompt resolution of disputes, and provide you with practical and professional legal advice to best achieve this. This means:

  • Listening to you and being honest with you
  • Explaining all the available options and giving you the confidence to make the right decisions
  • Helping you to focus on what’s important in the short and long term
  • Assisting you to balance financial and emotional costs with what you want to achieve
  • Working with others (such as accountants, counsellors, professional experts) to find the right approach and the best solutions for you
  • Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation

We know you want to move on, and we can help you get there. We have the specialist expertise, skill and experience to deal with all aspects of family law such as property and financial matters, parenting and children’s issues, spousal maintenance, child support, domestic violence and de facto relationships.

If you would like to obtain some initial advice about your matter, please contact us.