There are a range of pathways to resolve every family law matter.
There will be obstacles to manage along the way. However challenging the path may be, our team has the skill set and experience to assist you throughout your family law matter, however straightforward or complex your circumstances are and regardless of which pathway you may choose.
The first step you take in any family law matter should always be to seek legal advice. This may include seeking advice before you separate, after separation and also about any arrangement you and your former partner may have already agreed to between yourselves. When we are aware of your circumstances and intentions, we can identify the risks and benefits to you and what is in the best interests of children, and advise you of the available options depending upon your circumstances and your preferences as to how your matter should proceed.
The pathways available include negotiation, mediation, collaborative practice, arbitration and litigation.
The most simple resolution may be achieved via a ‘straight negotiation’. That is, either directly with your partner or with the assistance of lawyers “in the background”, you may come to an agreement about financial and parenting arrangements and we can assist in drafting the required settlement documents.
Alternatively, upon fulfilling the disclosure process (information seeking) and in consultation with you about your options, we negotiate on your behalf with your former partner’s lawyer. This process can be swift or take time, depending on the complexity of your matter. In the event the negotiations do not reach a resolution you may need to proceed through one of the other pathways below.
Mediation is where you and your former partner or spouse meet with an experienced mediator; with both sides intending to reach an agreement. Lawyers will usually be in attendance to assist both parties at mediation. Mediations are used in both financial and parenting disputes.
In the event that an in-person or face-to-face mediation is an unsafe option for one party or impractical because of distance, alternative arrangements can be made for video based mediation.
To have the best chance of reaching a negotiated outcome and avoid Court, there is a significant amount of preparation involved. This includes seeking valuations and documents that will help narrow or define the real issues to be addressed.
A lawyer-assisted mediation is ideal to support the real-time decision-making that occurs at a mediation. If the mediation is successful, the settlement documents are drawn up and can be lodged with the Court.
Our lawyers are highly experienced in preparing for, attending and assisting clients in mediations and a number of our partners are AIFLAM Accredited Mediators, and therefore they thoroughly understand the process.
Collaborative Practice is a process where the parties and their lawyers, who are trained and accredited in collaborative law, with the assistance of a third-party Coach (also known as a Neutral), work together as a team to resolve all issues, with a commitment not to litigate.
The resolution pathway is about problem-solving in a way that meets the interests and needs of both parties and the family overall. It is about reaching an agreement and doing it in a respectful and cooperative way. It is a process available to people that are willing to focus on the interests and needs of the other party. The view is for them to be able to have an ongoing relationship that is amicable and focused upon their ongoing relationship as a family.
This approach is very process driven and bespoke. It may be achieved in one day, across two months or across five meetings over a year or two. This approach is varied to fit the structure and needs of the family.
Two of our partners are collaborative law professionals, Carly Middleton and Melinda Winning.
Arbitration is the equivalent of a hearing where the Arbitrator can make a binding decision, outside of the Court system. Arbitration is a valuable alternative to the delay and cost incurred when taking a matter to the Federal Circuit and Family Court. We can assist in all aspects of Arbitration including preparation, attendance and the registration of an award.
We also have at Barkus Doolan Winning three accredited, independent Arbitrators, Melinda Winning, Jeff Marhinin and Lila Morris and who may be appointed as Arbitrators with the agreement of all parties.
There are some matters where litigation is necessary or cannot be avoided. Litigation is a pathway that some people find themselves on reluctantly, whether due to the attitude of a party or the complexity of the matter. Sometimes it is necessary to litigate because of a particular issue or point of law, or because all of the other pathways have failed.
In the event you wish to achieve an outcome that meets certain expectations, that has not been achieved through the pathways above, then you need a good team of litigators and Barkus Doolan Winning has earned that reputation in some of the largest and most difficult cases in the family law courts over the last 30 years. Exceptional litigators will guide you through the process, making sure you are not daunted by it. Where appropriate, a good litigator can steer a matter in a way that means you may be able to reach an agreement before your matter reaches an interim or final hearing.