Alternative Dispute Resolution

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)?

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) refers to any process aimed at resolving a dispute between parties without court involvement. ADR can be used for disputes concerning your children and/or your financial/property issues. You should consider attending ADR before commencing proceedings in the Family Court. You are required to try to reach agreement using dispute resolution processes before the court will hear your case. It is also faster and cheaper than waiting for the court to make a decision for you. ADR involves an independent impartial person (with specialist training) assisting the parties resolve their issues. You and your children will benefit from an early resolution of your dispute.

ADR Processes

ADR processes include:

Before you start your case, Family Dispute Resolution is usually compulsory in a parenting case. In a property case, it is expected that you will engage in pre-action procedures, including dispute resolution.

If you have filed an application in the Court in a parenting case, the court may make an order for you to attend FDR, in particular if you have not already attended. This might be at a Family Relationships Centre or with an accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. The court often requires parties to attend Legal Aid’s Dispute Resolution service. You may also be required to attend a Child Dispute Conference with a Family Consultant at the Court, who may assist you reach an agreement. 

In property cases, you will be required to attend a confidential Conciliation Conference. However, other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution may be more appropriate. The Law Society of Western Australia has established a list of accredited Mediators and Arbitrators. Information about the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators is available here. Some Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are able to assist with property matters.

To get the most out of Alternative Dispute Resolution in a property case, it is important that disclosure has been provided and valuations obtained for items of property which are in dispute. You will also benefit from having obtained legal advice. A list of local practitioners is available here and here (Law Society of WA members).

During your case, the court expects you will engage in further appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution. You are encouraged to propose to the court any available form of Alternative Dispute Resolution you think will assist in the resolution of your dispute.

In appropriate parenting and property cases, the court may require you to attend a one day or half day (3 hours) early intervention/settlement conference or Pre-Trial Conference. These conferences are confidential mediations conducted at the Court by a Registrar to see whether the parties' dispute can be settled or narrowed.

Mediation Pilot
The Family Court of Western Australia conducted a mediation pilot program from 15 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, which offered existing litigants at the Court the opportunity to participate in a confidential, one day mediation (Pre-Trial Conference). The final report can be downloaded from the link below.

Last updated: 7-Dec-2020

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