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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") refers to any method of settling family law matters or disputes without resorting to litigation in the Family Law Courts. While the two most common forms of ADR are arbitration and mediation, negotiation is almost always attempted first to resolve a dispute.


Negotiation is an informal means of resolving a dispute, where the people involved communicate directly with each other to try and reach an agreement. Negotiations can be conducted face to face, over the phone or by letter or email, with or without the assistance of a third party, such as a solicitor. The main advantage of this form of dispute settlement is that it allows the parties themselves to control the process and the solution.

Negotiation should be seen as a first step in resolving a dispute. If this method fails, other types of ADR should be considered.


Arbitration is an ADR method and is a formal way of resolving a dispute where you meet with a neutral third person (who is usually trained in the law) who will listen to you and the other people involved and make a binding decision about what should happen.  In most forms of arbitration parties sign an agreement or contract to accept whatever the arbitrator’s decision may be.


Litigation typically involves warring parties going to Court and while a judge may be a neutral person he/she has to decide in favour of only one party.

Family Mediation is also called Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Family mediation can assist families to reach agreements in the best interests of children. If you cannot work out your disagreements about caring for your kids, mediation can help.
Family mediation can help everyone involved to focus on the children, discuss possible arrangements and come up with practical solutions to meet the needs of children. You can also discuss your financial and property problems.
The law says you must make a genuine effort to reach an agreement with your ex through mediation, unless:
  • Your case is urgent;
  • It involves family violence; or
  • It is not practical because of reasons like distance or serious illness.

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