In many areas of law, including Civil Law and Australian Family Law, changes in the legal system require that a genuine attempt at an alternative form of dispute management is required prior to entering a courtroom. There are a few exceptions such as where there is actual or threat of harm to children or either party or for urgent cases.
Litigation is a lengthy, expensive and stressful process. By the time disputes have reached the court, disputes are often so entrenched, and parties so bitter, that they find it almost impossible to work with any dispute resolution process. Courtroom mediators are under procedural pressure to assist parties to agree quickly, often resulting in agreements that may be ill-considered and not necessarily in the parties' best interests.
Why Compulsory Mediation?
Remember the days when we did not have to wear seat belts? We all rode around in our cars quite oblivious to the fact that our lives could be saved by a seatbelt in an accident. It took legislation that required people to wear them or face a hefty fine to create a change in our behaviour. Now, most of us automatically wear a seatbelt, we would consider it highly dangerous and irresponsible to do otherwise. Our mindset, attitude and habit has completely changed and as a direct result, wearing seatbelts has saved the lives and limbs or tens of thousand of people. Compulsory mediation is similarly imposed upon us to prevent us crashing and burning in the court system.
It is well recognised that nearly all parties in a dispute would be much better off utilising a co-operative method rather than in a traditional adversarial system, which is highly stressful, can take years, and costs a horrendous amount of money and resources. Character assassination associated with legal letters of demand and cross examination usually cause permanent damage to relationships, and in the extreme, has even resulted in suicide and murder.
Agreements made earlier and co-operatively, with the assistance of mediators, are made by the parties, in their best interests and are therefore more likely to be adhered to, than an order imposed by a judge in a courtroom. With mediation, relationships are usually strengthened and parties can get on with their lives and back to business together.
Separating and divorcing couples in particular need to maintain a level of communication that allows them to co-operatively parent their children. Mediation encourages couples in dispute to communicate their needs and interests, without destroying any remaining threads of their relationship, which in turn may escalate the conflict, intensifying their battle, and sending them all into poverty.
The Australian Commonwealth Government introduced the Civil Procedures Act in March 2011. This act requires parties to make reasonable efforts to resolve their dispute prior to litigation. Those who do not may have costs orders made against them, i.e. if they do not show they have made reasonable attempts to resolve their issues prior to court, that party may be ordered to pay the legal costs of the other party. InterMEDIATE Dispute Management has mediators who specialise in your area of commerce.
Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution
Litigation is not an appropriate way to resolve family disputes. Australian Family Laws have changed since 1st July 2007, to help ensure better outcomes for children, and based on knowledge that parenting matters are best kept out of the courtroom. (s)60i Certificates issued by Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are now required for all new parenting matters, prior to lodgement in the courts.
Compliance certificates will state that parties did or did not make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute. Parties who do not make a genuine effort, may be referred by the court, back to the mediation process and/or be made liable for the other party's court costs as well as their own. There are exceptions for cases where the child or parent may be at risk of abuse and urgent cases. For a more in-depth understanding of the new rules, please see PDF at the base of this page.
Lawyers are required to advise clients to attempt an alternative form of dispute resolution prior to litigation.
Our Registered and Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners work with parties who are committed to the process and wish to develop timely agreements that are in the best interests of their children. We encourage and assist parents to put aside their conflict, to focus on their children's needs, and to discuss and agree. We enable both parties to mediate utilising an unbiased and impartial co-mediation model that encourages parties, rather than make them feel that they have no choice.
InterMEDIATE Dispute Management has the experience and expertise to help parties to achieve their sought after outcomes. Parties tell us how satisfied they feel with our process, their agreements and many of our previous clients recommend us to their friends. Many ask us if they can come back to us if they cannot agree in the future. Contact us
PDF Compulsory Family Dispute Resolution (Adobe Reader required)