Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a general term used to describe alternatives (to litigation) for resolving disputes between conflicted parties without the need for judicial intervention.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (most commonly conducted through mediation, arbitration and/or conciliation) models of dispute resolution are promoted by Merridy Elphick Lawyers as efficient and cost-effective manners by which disputes between two parties to a family law matter can be resolved. Merridy Elphick is a nationally accredited mediator with extensive experience appearing for parties in ADR.

Family Law matters are often plagued by heightened emotion, which in turn can provide barriers to dispute resolution. Competent and skilled lawyers will help clients manage emotions and pursue disputes through ADR where possible and Court where necessary. We believe that solutions can be found to most issues and strongly encourage our clients to consider litigation as a last resort.

Alternative Dispute Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Merridy Elphick Lawyers

We work with our clients to identify a preferred outcome and the best strategy for achieving that particular goal. We assist our clients by:

Options for Alternative Dispute Resolution

The ADR models of mediation, arbitration and conciliation are all different, but the desired outcome is the same – resolving disputes through negotiation to the satisfaction of all parties where possible.


Mediation is the most common form of ADR used in Family Law. An independent party (mediator) is appointed to facilitate the negotiations between the parties in dispute. The mediation itself is bound by a confidentiality agreement entered into by all involved, including the mediator.

The mediator will assist the parties to clarify the issues in dispute, identify possible options and assist the parties to reach an agreement. The team at Merridy Elphick Lawyers specializes in facilitating mediation. Visit our Mediation page for a comprehensive understanding of our approach to dissolving disputes by mediation.


Arbitration is significantly more formal and directed than mediation. Each party presents their case and their evidence to an independent Arbitrator who will determine a result in what is termed an ‘Award’ after hearing all of the evidence.

Our clients find Arbitration to be useful if the subject matter is highly technical or in the event the parties want a confidential solution. Attendance at Arbitration is most usually voluntary in Family Law matters.


An independent third party conducts conciliation, most often a Registrar of the Family Court who assists the parties to identify the issues, consider options that may resolve those issues and assist the parties to reach an agreement.

Conciliation can be voluntary, Court-ordered, or required as part of a contract if a dispute over terms arises. The conciliator’s role is similar to that of a mediator in that they facilitate an agreement; however, unlike in mediation, a conciliator may give legal information and expert advice on the issues in dispute. Unlike arbitration, a conciliation does not impose an outcome on the parties in the event they are unable to reach an agreement voluntarily.

A Handy Guide to Dispute Resolution

Your guide to dispute resolution is a useful publication produced by the Australian Government. It contains basic information about common ADR processes and general tips on resolving disputes. Make an appointment today to discuss your ADR options with the specialist team here at Merridy Elphick Lawyers.