Negotiation, mediation and litigation: What’s the difference and how will it affect me?

When you’re navigating a dispute resolution process, there are several different avenues that are designed to facilitate a fair and just outcome for both parties involved.

The most common of these are negotiation, mediation and litigation, and each one involves its own unique process and ability to resolve matters of family law.

What is negotiation?

Judgement scales and law reflecting dispute resolution process

Negotiation is arguably the most common form of the dispute resolution process, and chances are that you have taken part in this process on a smaller scale many times throughout your life. This method requires the aggrieved party to approach the offending party to discuss the concerns surrounding the dispute and to attempt to come to an agreement both are happy with.  Negotiations can be done in person, however, in most family law matters negotiations are usually done by way of letters between the parties and/or solicitors.

Negotiation, if possible and practical, should be the first step in any dispute. It can avoid costly litigation fees and avoid a long-drawn-out legal process. However, if the negotiation process is not successful, the next step would be to move on to mediation or litigation.

What is mediation?

In situations where negotiation between the two parties (and their lawyers) has not led to a resolution, the matter can be taken to an impartial third party. This person is known as a mediator and should be accredited and familiar with disputes that are similar in scope to the one being brought forward. When mediation is sought out, both parties must agree that they will try to resolve their differences with the help of the mediator.

A mediator does not make a decision, but rather assists the parties to reach their own agreement.

Mediation is a great option for those people who have not been able to reach an agreement via negotiation but are still open to resolving the matter out of court.

What is litigation?

Litigation is an avenue that should be explored if all other alternative dispute resolution methods are exhausted. In this instance, the parties involved rely on a judge to determine the resolution by presenting their case to the court. The outcome of this method is binding on both parties, although taking the matter to a court of appeal may be possible.

As it is a time consuming, costly and prolonged method of dispute resolution, it is recommended that litigation only be used if all other avenues have failed.

Whichever method is used to resolve your family law matter, we strongly recommend that any agreement be legally formalised.  We can assist you during all forms of dispute resolution and drafting legally binding documents to formalise your agreement.

For more information about your options when it comes to family law dispute resolution process or property settlement, call us or request a callback via the form below.

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