How long does it take?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the shortest war in history occurred in Zanzibar in 1896. Hostilities were called off after 45 minutes when three British war ships showed up! The longest war lasted 116 years between the British and the French ending in 1453 with Britannia eventually conceding France to the French!

Viewed objectively, family law litigation contains none of the rigours and horrors of true war fare but at times it can seem every bit as chaotic, pointless and debilitating. So how long does it take to resolve a family law dispute?

The amount of time and energy involved to move a case from the onset of conflict to resolution is inevitably affected by variables such as complexity of issues and personalities involved. Generally speaking though, the more simple cases can be expected to be resolved inside three months and the more complex within two years.

There are however, plenty of initiatives that can be used to speed up the dispute resolution process. Here are a few:

Private Mediation

These days there is a very good selection of senior and well experienced lawyers, barristers and social workers who can make themselves available to mediate disputes on relatively short notice. With the experience of many years in private practice, these persons carry an inept ability to swiftly identify issues and impose credible influence to persuade warring parties to move to a position of mutual compromise. The choice of mediator, solid prior preparation and even personal legal representation are important factors but used correctly, private mediation can do better than halve the dispute resolution time of even the most complex of cases.

Collaborative Lawyering

An increasing number of Family Law Specialists are beginning to embrace this technique. Put simply, It involves lawyers representing both sides setting their starting position in negotiations at the middle ground between best and worst case scenarios so as to substantially bridge if not eliminate the gap over which the negotiation process must travel to reach a concluded agreement.

Jointly Appointed Experts

Under the Family Law Rules, the parties can agree to appoint an independent expert to examine and rule on some issue in contention.  This can be something as simple as a dispute over the value of a residential property or something as complex as questions of ownership and control of multitiered trust structures and the consequent tax liabilities that are often tightly intertwined.  The engagement of these experts can be upon the basis that both parties will be bound by the experts conclusions but even when they are not, independent assessments of these sorts are highly effective in breaking down even the most strongly held opposition.

 Resolving a family law dispute 45 minutes after it begins is probably beyond the realms of possibility but the fight definitely doesn’t have to go on forever.  With the right choice of lawyer and dispute resolution technique it might be over sooner than you think.

 Michael Zande is a Queensland Law Society accredited family law specialist with over 20 years experience in the field. He is the principal at Zande Law Solicitors, Suite 7, Norwinn Centre, 15 Discovery Drive, North Lakes.  To contact Michael for advice phone 3385 0999.

  The information in this article is merely a guide and is not a full explanation of the law. This firm cannot take responsibility for any action readers take based on this information.  When making decisions that could affect your legal rights, please contact us for professional advice.