At Daykin Family Law, we work with our clients to resolve matters in a cost effective and timely manner, which usually means staying out of Court wherever possible. The Court system can be complex, costly and time consuming. In many cases, alternative methods of dispute resolution can achieve preferable outcomes, without the added stress that can arise through a Court battle.

Speaking to, and taking advice from, a lawyer does not necessarily mean going to Court. The can be a common misconception of some. Instead, getting legal advice can empower you to make educated decisions that are best for you and your family.

So, how can you avoid going to Court whilst coming to a suitable arrangement in your family law matter? Here’s a closer look at the different types of alternative dispute resolution commonly used in family law cases.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Whilst it can seem impossible at a time when emotions are running high, coming together to calmly and rationally discuss disputes is often all that is needed to ultimately resolve them. Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) can be a really effective means of increasing the chances of early resolution, so that both parties can move ahead.

If you and your former partner disagree on allocation of property, parenting issues or family matters, Family Dispute Resolution could help. FDR is a confidential process whereby someone trained in dispute resolution will help reach a consensus acceptable to both parties. The FDR process is provided by organisations such as Legal Aid and Relationships Australia and can also be facilitated by lawyers, social workers and mediation practitioners.

Lawyers can assist before and during, for example, gathering the relevant information required and negotiating in advance those matters to allow you to reach an agreement in an informed and supported manner.


Similarly to FDR, mediation can be used to resolve property and parenting matters. The process begins with an individual, confidential session between you and the mediator to outline the issues that are most important to you, before mediation commences. Most mediation sessions are facilitated by private practitioners, including lawyers, barristers, social workers and other accredited mediators. If mediation is right for you, we can recommend a mediator that will be a good fit for your matter.


Depending on the scope of the dispute, negotiation can be an effective means of dispute resolution. Negotiation is particularly beneficial when the parties are unable to or uncomfortable directly engaging in discussions with each other. For example, in situations where clients have experienced domestic violence. Negotiation can occur between lawyers and/or in separate rooms, to avoid direct contact between clients.


The process of arbitration is where the parties choose a private arbitrator to decide how their property is to be divided or whether spousal maintenance is payable.

Both parties present their arguments and evidence to the arbitrator, who then makes a determination. Their decision (or ‘award’) is delivered within a specified period, making it a drastically quicker solution than going through the Courts. Arbitration is voluntary and can be undertaken either by the parties on agreement or by a Court order.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law is similar to mediation in some ways, however each party will have their own legal representative who is collaboratively trained. To reach an agreement, a series of face to face meetings are held with both parties and their lawyers, to discuss issues openly and in a non-confrontational manner. Should the parties be unable to reach an agreement and Court proceedings are necessary, the lawyers must withdraw from the case and neither can act for that client in Court. This is to ensure that all parties are committed to settling collaboratively and avoiding litigation.

Such lawyers should be specifically trained in the collaborative process to ensure they possess the necessary skills to successfully engage with all parties. To find out if collaborative practice is right for you, check out our detailed article on Collaborative Law here. Director, Shannon Daykin, is a trained Collaborative Lawyer.

If all else fails....

Should alternative dispute resolution fail for you, or litigation is necessary, for example in matters involving child safety, domestic violence or where talks fall flat, then the matter will most likely be taken to Court. Find out about the process here.

In any case, family law matters can be complex, even when both parties can communicate well and mutually agree on matters. So it’s important to get proper legal advice from the outset to ensure you reach the most desirable possible outcome for your circumstances. Daykin Family Law can assist you in creating a personalised plan unique to your situation.

Daykin Family Law’s Director and Principal Lawyer, Shannon Daykin, is a Brisbane based family lawyer is collaboratively trained, an Accredited Family Law Specialist and has a wealth of experience and expertise in family law. If you’re considering your options for resolution and would like to keep the matter as stress-free as possible, contact us today for a no obligation consultation to find out what’s right for you.

We give you expert legal advice on the most appropriate and cost-effective course of action for you and your family.  Contact us on (07) 3338 5645 to make an appointment for a fixed fee initial consultation today.

The blog published by Daykin Family Law is intended as general information only and is not legal advice on any subject matter. By viewing the blog posts, the reader understands there is no solicitor-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a legal practitioner, and readers are urged to consult Daykin Family Law on any legal queries concerning a specific situation.