An article released today, titled, “Family Law Courts are Crippling Families” essays  some important statistics about the pressures experienced by the Family / Federal Circuit Court and Australian families. Respectfully, however, the title misdescribes (perhaps inadvertently) that the problem is caused by the Courts themselves.

Judges of the Family and Federal Circuit Courts are inundated by matters with varying degrees of issues in dispute and complexity. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that all matters require significant consideration and deliberation prior to their determination.

Recording decisions so as to ensure that the judgment / outcome is recorded in a way that accurately reflects the issues in dispute, the evidence of the parties / witnesses and how / why property is to be divided and / or child(ren) parented is not an easy task and takes (sometimes significant) time. These problems (among others outside the confines of this article) is a compelling reason why Judges are forever informing litigants that they are best served by trying to resolve their matters via alternate dispute resolution / mediation.

But settling family law matters prior to trial is one of the best ways to dodge the emotional and financial toll of litigation, Durand says.

“I would encourage people again if it is possible to think about Alternative Dispute Resolution or mediation to try to resolve their matter.”

Former Federal Circuit Court Judge Stephen Scarlett also said that mediation is increasingly important as it is “significantly less expensive.”

“I also think the courts should be strongly advising people to go to mediation and unless a matter has been to mediation unsuccessfully, the court should be asking why the matter should be given a final hearing date.”

A copy of the article can be found here.