The 5 D's of Dispute Resolution

Uncategorized Jul 24, 2020

In any family law dispute, the people involved, yes that means you, will determine their own dispute resolution pathway. I know you may be getting lots of advice and direction from family, friends and even professionals about what might be best for you. But, at the end of the day, you are in the driver's seat. The steps you take now and the method you choose to resolve your family law dispute, will have an enormous impact on you and your family's immediate wellbeing and long term future.

Whenever I have a family come and see me, one of the first things I do is to educate them on the different dispute resolution options available. For more information on what options you have available, take a look at what I call your family law ‘dispute resolution menu’. It will walk you through everything from a kitchen table discussion, to mediation (with and without lawyers), collaborative practice, arbitration and litigation. I set out what’s involved, the estimated costs and time frames for each and the level of control you will have in relation to the outcome. 



If you select an out of court option, which is what we specialise in at Divorce Done Differently, the 5 basic steps will always be the same. I call them the 5 ‘D’s of Dispute Resolution and they look like this:

Step 1 – DECIDE on the method to you will use to resolve your dispute. Remember your main options are:

  1. Kitchen Table Discussions
  2. Mediation (with or without lawyers)
  3. Collaborative Practice
  4. Arbitration
  5. Litigation (Court)

Once you have both agreed, the problem solving pathway will begin.

Step 2 – DISCLOSE to each other all of the information and documentation that you both need to know so that you can each make decisions about your own and your family’s future.

Disclosure is such a legal word. Don’t be put off by this. It doesn’t have to be a scary process. Basically it means gathering and sharing information and any documents to back this up. This might include bank account statements, tax returns, share certificates, trust deeds or information about your employment. What is required will be individual to you and how your family has structured things.

Step 3 – DEVELOP options for resolving the issues for your family.

At this stage we will come up with as many options as we can with the help of each of you and any professionals involved. The idea is to just get the ideas and options on the table. Some may seem unrealistic or not suitable to you. Others may be inviting and workable. The idea at this stage isn’t to assess the pros and cons of each option, it’s simply to get ideas on the table. Be as creative as you can. Think outside the box.

Step 4 – DETERMINE what is best for you and your family into the future. This is where we will work through the advantages and disadvantages of each of the options you have generated. We will reality test the proposals to see whether they are actually achievable and whether you can make them work.

Step 5 – DOCUMENT the agreements you have reached. It will be pretty important to make sure that you put pen to paper and that you know what you have agreed to and whether it is legally binding or not.


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