Family Law Dispute Resolution

In the sensitive and often emotional environment of family law, mediation offers an excellent opportunity to come to a mutual agreement before the matter ever gets to court.

It is not always in everybody’s best interests for family law disputes to come before the courts.

With the numbers of cases in the courts, delays can be extremely lengthy. In an emotive environment like family law, a quicker resolution of a dispute and an early settlement means less disruption to lives, and less of a negative impact on the future relationship between the disputing parties.

Additionally, some matters are best not aired before the courts where private details may come under a Judge’s duty to report adding complications and further delays.


Many Family Law disputes are first subjected to mediation in an attempt to solve the issue as quickly and painlessly as possible. During mediation, the disputing parties are both given a chance to present their case.

The session is coordinated by a mediator; a neutral person who assists the parties to resolve their dispute. The purpose of the mediation is to come to an agreement which is acceptable to all parties. The intention is to avoid having to take the matter any further preventing added expense, angst, and inconvenience for all concerned.

If no agreement is reached the matter may have to be resolved by the Courts.

See our section on mediation for further detail on the process.

Family Law Arbitration

Arbitration, unlike mediation, delivers a legally binding outcome, just as if the matter had gone to Court.

When should family law arbitration be used?

Unlike commercial arbitration, there is no imperative to use family law arbitration and a Family Law Court judge is not empowered to order it. All disputing parties must agree to participate.

It is simply an alternative which might be considered where an expedient and private resolution is sought with a determinative (or legally binding) outcome.

Speak to your solicitor to work out the best scenario in your case, whether it be by allowing the matter to proceed to court, trying mediation as a first step to try to resolve some or all of the issues, or arbitration to give a legally binding outcome outside of the court environment.

Who performs family law mediation or arbitration?

Many members of the Victorian Bar are nationally accredited mediators and qualified arbitrators. In addition to their legal qualifications and Court experience in Family Law, they will have completed a course in dispute resolution.

Find a family law mediator and arbitrator

Click here to use the Find a Barrister search tool to find Victorian Bar members who are qualified or experienced as family law mediators and arbitrators.