On Thursday 28 May 2020, the Victorian Family Law Pathways Network – Greater Melbourne in collaboration with Sunshine Family Relationship Centre, hosted a local event designed for the legal profession to explain the process for property dispute resolution.
This event marked the inaugural event and is the first step for the VFLPN to introduce our network to the western suburbs, and host collaborative meetings. These meetings are a platform for professionals meet to discuss issues and referral processes within in the family law sector of Melbourne’s western suburbs.
The Sunshine FRC is offering their clients Family Dispute Resolution for property disputes as well as parenting, and was seeking to establish referral relationships with local lawyers who understand and support the dispute resolution process. The VFLPN organised and hosted a ZOOM webinar with interested members of our network to facilitate these referral relationships.
Relationships Australia Victoria Model
Alan Hebb, Senior Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Sunshine FRC spoke to the family dispute resolution processes that assist in resolving property disputes. The Relationships Australia Model begins with intake and assessment, where the FDRP can obtain some preliminary details about the history of the parties, identify the threshold issues, and prepare the parties for the process. Then, the parties will attend an initial joint session where they will identify any agreement on the property pool, contributions made and future needs of the parties. They will then go out and obtain individual legal and financial advice, and then return for a second session to try and reach a resolution based on the advice they received. This second session can occur with lawyers’ present. The final step to reaching a resolution within this model is for clients to reach an agreement with the assistance of lawyers – whether this be through consent orders or a financial agreement.
The “LACAFDR” Model (“Legally Assisted” “Culturally Appropriate” Family Dispute Resolution) differs from the above model as there is continuing legal assistance from the start of the process to the end. This model has many advantages, such as being able to receive legal advice based on agreed facts rather than on party’s version, an opportunity to meet the opposing lawyer, and is a more efficient use of resources.
Alan reiterated the importance of lawyer involvement and support throughout the FDR process. Lawyers are able to do things that FDRP’s cannot due to the neutral nature of their role. This can include managing unrealistic expectations, reassuring and supporting their vulnerable clients, and move the client towards a resolution.
Referral Pool & Upcoming Collaborative Meetings (western suburbs)
The event concluded with some questions revolving around the specifications of Sunshine FRC’s service, including eligibility and waiting times. Alan confirmed with audience members the next steps in becoming a part of the lawyer’s referral list to participate in regular meetings. These lawyers are to undertake to attend these meetings, understand and respect the process of FDR, and assist their mutual clients to resolve their dispute by FDR if possible.
The VFLPN hopes to use this platform as an avenue to begin hosting collaborative meetings in the western suburbs.
If you are a family law practitioner in the western suburbs and would like to attend these collaborative meetings, please get in contact by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org