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Step-by-Step Process of Going to Court after Mediation in Australia

going to court after mediation | Justice Family Lawyers

Mediation is a great way to resolve family law issues outside of court. It can be less stressful and gives you more control over the outcome.  

However, even the best mediation efforts sometimes may not always lead to complete agreement. If that happens, you may need to go to court to finalise your situation.

The Step-by-Step Process of Going to Court after Mediation

Step 1: Filing an application

What type of application do I need to file?

The first step in going to court is filing the appropriate application. The specific form you’ll use depends on the nature of your family law issue: Here are some common examples:

  • Divorce: You’ll need to file for a divorce application and demonstrate that your marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  • Parenting Matters: Applications can address issues like child living arrangements, parenting time, or significant decisions about a child’s life.
  • Property/Financial Settlement: Applications in this area deal with the division of assets and finances after separation.

Where do I file my application?

The correct court depends on the complexity of your situation:

  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia: Handles most family law matters, including simple to moderately complex disputes.
  • Family Court of Australia: Deals with complex cases that might involve issues like family violence, international child abduction, or significant financial assets.

What information needs to be included in my application?

In your application, you’ll need to provide:

  • Your personal details and the details of the other party
  • Relevant details about your children (if applicable)
  • A concise outline of the background of your situation.
  • Specific details about the orders you are seeking from the court (what you want the judge to decide).

Also read: Mediation with a Narcissist: What You Should Be Prepared Of

Step 2: Pre-trial conferences

After filing your application, the court may schedule one or more pre-trial conferences. These less formal meetings, typically overseen by a court registrar, serve several important functions:

  • Narrowing Down Issues: The registrar will try to pinpoint the specific areas where you and the other party still disagree, helping to focus the upcoming court case on the essential points.
  • Exploring Settlement Possibilities: The registrar may encourage you to work out solutions to any remaining disagreements, potentially saving you the stress and expense of a full trial.
  • Discussing Evidence: You might need to discuss the documents or other evidence you plan to present in court, giving both sides an idea of what to expect and highlighting any issues with obtaining needed information.
  • Setting a Timeline: The registrar will help outline a schedule for the remaining steps in the court process, such as deadlines for filing additional documents or a date for the actual trial.

What to Expect

Pre-trial conferences are generally more conversational than a court hearing. However, it’s crucial to be prepared:

  • Gather your thoughts: Clearly outline the areas where you still disagree with the other party.
  • Be realistic: Even if you hope for a specific outcome, be open to the possibility of compromise.
  • Representation: While you can represent yourself at pre-trial conferences, having a family lawyer by your side can increase your chances of a favorable outcome or even help settle your case completely.

Also read: If I Refuse Mediation Will It Go Against Me in Court?

Step 3: Gathering and Exchanging Evidence 

The evidence you present in court will be a significant factor in the judge’s decision. It’s critical to take the time to gather relevant information and share it with the other party in a structured way.

Types of Evidence in Family Law Cases

Common types of evidence in Australian family law matters include:

  • Affidavits: Sworn written statements from you, the other party, or other relevant witnesses (like friends, family, or professionals).
  • Financial Documents: Bank statements, tax returns, property valuations, payslips, or proof of debt are frequently relevant.
  • Expert Reports: Assessments by professionals like psychologists, social workers, or medical professionals can be essential, especially in parenting matters.
  • Correspondence: Emails, text messages, or letters between you and the other party that shed light on the situation.
  • Other: Photographs, medical records, school reports, or anything else that supports your case.

The Discovery Process

The formal process of exchanging relevant documents between parties is called “Discovery.” The court might issue orders about what information must be shared and set deadlines for this process.

Why is Evidence Important

Solid evidence helps to:

  • Support your claims: Evidence backs up what you’re asserting about the situation.
  • Challenge the other party’s claims: It can be used to question the other party’s version of events.
  • Persuade the judge: The judge will use the evidence to decide the case, so having strong and credible proof is essential.

Step 4: The Court Hearing

The court hearing is where your case will reach its final resolution. This formal proceeding, typically held before a judge, involves the presentation of your evidence and arguments.

Step 5: The Judge’s Decision

After the court hearing, the judge will carefully consider all the evidence and arguments presented. The decision may be delivered immediately after the hearing or in writing at a later date. The judge’s decision is binding on both parties.

Step 6: Your Options for Appeal

If your case meets certain criteria, you may have the right to appeal to a higher court. However, appeals can be complex and costly, so it’s critical to carefully consider your options and seek legal advice from an expert family lawyer before proceeding.

Step-by-Step Process of Going to Court after Mediation in Australia

Going to court after mediation can be a daunting prospect, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Justice Family Lawyers, our experienced team is ready to guide you through every step of the process with expert legal advice and dedicated support.

Contact us today to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

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