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Family Law – Work with the System – Not Against It

In early November 2019 the Sydney Morning Herald ran two editorials, one on the long, difficult path to the reform of the Family Law System, and a second, taking a specific look at the concerning and ever-growing delays in the Family Law Courts. Titled “‘It keeps me up at night’: Chief Justice on chronic family law delays” it was this quote by Family Court Chief Justice Will Alstergren which really captured our attention.

If the Chief Justice openly expressed such worry and concern about his own Court and jurisdiction what does this mean to us as practitioners and to you as clients? Statistics like 60 percent of matters being in the Court system for a minimum of one to two years are hugely concerning, and it is right that reform is being widely discussed because it is clearly necessary. But how does that help you now if you have just separated? OR if your former husband/wife/de facto partner has just commenced Court proceedings?

At Watts McCray we aim to be problem solvers, rather than get lost in the problems of our system it is our desire to work with it. It is the system we currently have, and while our system is immensely strained we want to work with you towards the resolution of your matter using every available process and resource that exists. To begin with, it is our strong desire, whenever possible to keep your matter OUT of the Family Law Courts. We adopt an open approach to negotiation to give you every opportunity of resolving your matter at the earliest possible stage.

Should we not be able to resolve your matter this way we can look to engage the services of an independent mediator. Mediation, both for property and parenting matters can be an effective, and cost efficient way of resolving matters, or at the very least, narrowing the issues in dispute. Lastly, should a more authoritative approach be required we can discuss your options with regard to Arbitration – a growing but still underused method of obtaining a decision on the outstanding issues in your matter without ever stepping foot in a Court room.

These are just very basic descriptions of the alternatives to finding yourself in Court proceedings.

In the editorial, Chief Justice Alstergren is quoted as saying;

“I can totally understand why people get upset. It’s a shocking time in their lives. And we have got to have serious compassion for that and put in place everything we possibly can to try to lessen the stress on them.”

We hear our Chief Justice and most importantly we hear you. We are a highly experienced firm that has worked within our family law system since its inception in 1975. Please take the opportunity to let us help you navigate what is not only a difficult time in your life, but a difficult time in Family Law.