Alternative Dispute Resolution

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Alternatives to Court

Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) is a term referring to different processes where parties try to resolve disputes without resorting to the Court. This includes processes such as mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and, collaborative law.

ADR has a number of benefits when compared to the Courts. They are lower cost and less formal, with a greater focus on what is important to the parties as opposed to legal rights. Rather than a “winner” and a “loser”, parties have greater control over the outcome, meaning they may walk away more satisfied than if recourse was sought through the Courts.

At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we have a range of trained professionals who can help you pursue many of the different types of ADR available.

Read more about the different types of ADR below.


Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process which is managed by a trained third party, called a mediator.

The intention of mediation is to facilitate discussions surrounding issues of dispute, and, where possible, encourage parties to resolve their issues and reach agreement.

The discussions that take place during mediation are confidential and cannot be used against either party in litigation unless there are exceptional circumstances.

During a mediation, each party will present their point of view on the issue in dispute, and the mediator will work with each party to attempt to work out a settlement.  A mediator cannot impose a decision on the parties; however at the end of the mediation they may present their findings and present a potential solution to the issue that is acceptable to both parties.

As mediation is a cost effective means of resolving disputes, it should be considered as early as possible after a dispute has arisen.

Mediation can be implemented prior to or in conjunction with litigation or court proceedings generally.

At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we are committed to using mediation as an effective means to resolve both property and children’s matters without litigation where appropriate.  We often refer clients to community based mediation centres, and also employ trained mediators (including experienced Family Law Barristers) particularly in more complex matters.

We also have trained mediators who can act as mediator in family law disputes.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law is a process in which parties and their lawyers commit to resolving a family law dispute outside of litigation.

Parties and their lawyers focus on reaching the best outcomes and solutions for the parties, rather than positional based negotiations.

All negotiations are confidential, and advice is given openly to both parties during a series of meetings involving both parties, their lawyers, and usually a neutral psychologist and financial expert.

Lawyers for both parties must be trained in collaborative law.

At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we believe that Collaboration is a positive way to resolve differences about parenting and property matters, to help you find solutions without going to Court.

You and your former partner and your lawyers are on the same team, with the shared goal of creating the best solution for you and your family.

An important part of the process is that the parties sign an agreement that they will not go to Court. If your matter doesn’t resolve at Collaboration and you do proceed to Court, your collaborative lawyers will no longer be involved and you will need to find new lawyers. However, most Collaborative Law cases to end in resolution.

It is our belief and experience that people are happier with the agreements that come from Collaboration.

Our lawyers, Sally Nicholes, Rebecca Dahl, Kate Bell and Nadine Udorovic are all trained in Collaborative Law.

Family Dispute Resolution

Pursuant to the Family Law Act, parties are required to attempt to mediate a dispute in relation to children’s matters before issuing proceedings in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia in most cases.

This form of mediation is known as Family Dispute Resolution and is focused on reaching agreement in relation to parenting matters in a manner that is child-focused and encourages parties to prioritise the interests of their children.

Participating in Family Dispute Resolution can prevent the need for a legal dispute or court case in relation to children’s matters.

At Nicholes Family Lawyers, we have qualified Family Dispute Resolution practitioners who can assist parties to reach agreement as to the optimal parenting arrangements for their children following marriage or relationship breakdown.