Disputes about children:
Increasingly, parties to family law disputes are facing long delays and often, significant legal costs, in having their cases determined by Courts. Although most cases settle prior to a final hearing and very few cases are decided by Judges or Magistrates, many people find it difficult to cope with the delays, expense and emotional stress associated with ligation.
Changes to the Family Law Act which came into effect in July 2006 now require people to attempt to settle their dispute by mediation and file a certificate with the Court to that effect before they are able to file an Application seeking parenting orders.
As Tim Horsley is a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, mediation at the Wollongong Mediation Centre complies with this requirement and certificates will be issued to parties who have attempted to negotiate their own agreement. Even if the other party refuses to participate, certificate may still be available to the party who seeks mediation.
Other Family Law Disputes including property settlement:
It is always worthwhile trying to settle Family Law dispute at the earliest available opportunity. Mediation is certainly worthwhile before a case has commenced but it is often also valuable even after the proceedings have started. These days we are receiving increasing numbers of referrals from the Federal Circuit Court for property settlements which are under way in the Court system. Most of those mediations involve the attendance of the parties’ lawyers. The mediation model we use is similar to the model used by the Registrars in the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court at Conciliation Conferences. We use the parties’ Court documents including Financial Statements and Affidavits already filed to assist in settlement discussions.
In the cases that have not commenced we ask parties to make a full and frank disclosure and complete a detailed financial questionnaire prior to convening any joint session. This may include requesting the parties to obtain and exchange valuations before mediation takes place.
Other types of Disputes:
We also chair settlement conferences and mediations involving workplace disputes and disputes between beneficiaries under the Succession Act 2006 (NSW).
The Wollongong Mediation Centre welcomes the attendance of solicitors with their clients in mediation sessions, particularly in cases where proceedings have already been commenced. In appropriate cases a party can bring along a support person to a joint session, if this is agreed by both parties.