At Tonkin Drysdale Partners we have worked over many years assisting Central Coast Family Law clients to resolve their disputes following a divorce.

Partner, Paul Quinn, who heads up the Family Law department at Tonkin Drysdale Partners, recognises that it is a very emotive time when someone is going through a separation with their spouse.

“There are many factors at play”, says Paul. “Sometimes the client you are seeing doesn’t want the family to split up at all. At other times, that is all your client wants, but he or she cannot understand why the other spouse can’t just accept the way they feel and move on.

There are also the people who feel, justifiably, let down by what the other spouse has done to them and feel that they should “pay” for their actions. At other times, people are not ready to “move on” and just want a bit of advice just in case they need it later.”

Often it can be difficult to manage people’s expectations. They may have been told by a friend what result they got out of their family law matter and expect that they will get the same. However, each case is unique and what applies for one family might not necessarily apply or work for another.

At Tonkin Drysdale Partners we like to encourage our clients to explore all their options to resolve their family law dispute.

“It would be very easy at times to say to a client – ‘well, you have an intractable dispute with your spouse, you may as well let the court work it out’ “, says Paul. “However, I think as a family law lawyer, if you do that, you give up on your client too easily. What is even worse, if your client has to spend many thousands of dollars and spend many months asking the court to work it out for them, you might have a very unhappy client at the end.”

We recognise, particularly on the Central Coast, an unhappy client is unlikely to come back and see you for other, happier legal matters, such as buying a house or doing a Will.

That is why we like to discuss with our family law clients, options available to them that don’t involve using the court system. Broadly speaking, the alternative methods are usually referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and such options might include:

• Round table conference – inviting the parties to meet, with their lawyers present, to work through the issues and try to resolve their family law matter;
• Formal Mediation – engaging a trained mediator to help assist the parties resolve the family law dispute;
• Collaborative Law – a different model that works towards satisfying the parties “needs” as opposed to enforcing their family law “rights”.

We recognise that sometimes these methods are not always successful and it may be that the matter does need to proceed to court. However, it does not necessarily mean that the ADR has been a waste of time and effort as it is often useful to identify the real issues that need to be resolved between the parties. It may also, help the parties to focus on what they need to do resolve the dispute or, if there are only a couple of issues that need to be resolved, the parties can ask the court to determine just those issues and not the whole matter. That can result in a lot less time being spent in Court.