Family Law Alternatives To Court FAQs

Do all family law matters have to go to court?

In short, No.

Not every matter has to go to Court. If the parties are on good speaking terms and are able, in a mature and civilised way to discuss matters between them, the need for Court is very unlikely.

After an initial conference with us, and a review of your matter, you will be able to decide which course is right for you.

Please call our office on (07) 5532 3199 to arrange an initial conference.

What is alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution, also known as ADR, is the collective term for ways of resolving legal problems without the need for a determination by a Court.

ADR can reduce legal costs and expedite outcomes.

The following are the different types of ADR:


This type of ADR is where a qualified arbitrator (chosen by the parties) decide how their property is to be split. Other matters can be decided to, such as spousal or de facto maintenance.

Collaborative law

Collaborative law is a unique form of ADR.

With Collaborative law, you and your ex partner keep control of negotiations, costs and any outcomes, rather than a third person (the Court) deciding.

There are three main principles:

  • a pledge not to go to court;
  • an honest exchange of information; and
  • a solution through negotiation in good faith, that takes into account the parties’ priorities and where applicable, those of their children.

Collaborative law has a number of benefits, including:

  • a more expedited, more cost effective and more transparent process than litigation;
  • More control in the hands of the parties;
  • the process allows the parties to have control over any restructuring or allocation of assets; and
  • it is less intrusive and emotionally charged - this is particularly important where children are involved.

Early neutral evaluation

Early Neutral Evaluation or an “ENE” is a form of ADR whereby a independent person known as an evaluator assesses the case on the information given to them by the parties on an agreed basis.

The evaluator will appraise the case and provide a non binding decision.

The parties can either choose to resolve the matter based on the decision of the evaluator or proceed to court.

In most cases the evaluator’s decision is found to be the very similar to the ultimate decision of the Court.


Mediation is most common in family law matters (as well as in the majority of civil matters).

Each party attends and presents their version of events and their desired outcomes. The mediator (who is professionally qualified), independent from each party, assesses the positions of the parties and attempts to “mediate” or assist them to a mutual agreement, known as a settlement. Mediation comes with many benefits.

The mediator does not give advice or determine the case.

Our experienced family lawyers can assist with the Alternative Dispute Resolution process and answer any questions regarding the Alternative Dispute Resolution process. Please call our office on (07) 5532 3199 to arrange an initial conference.