Mediation & Alternatives
to the court process

mediation services, Mediation and Alternatives to the Court Process, Merridy Elphick Lawyers

Merridy Elphick Lawyers offer accessible, professional mediation services to meet the needs of Family Law clients and professionals working within the Family Law area as an alternative to court.

Merridy Elphick is a nationally accredited mediator and an experienced senior solicitor and partner practising in Family Law. Her wealth of experience and skills regarding the nature of disputes in the Family Law area deliver flexible and client-focused solutions using the facilitative mediation model.

Mediation provides an alternative dispute-solving mechanism to costly litigation in a timely manner. It also provides the parties with the opportunity to retain a level of control over the outcomes available to them.

Facilitative mediation model

Parties to a dispute in Family Law matters (with a few exceptions) are required to make a genuine effort to resolve issues in dispute prior to commencing proceedings. Parties to parenting matters are generally required to attend Family Dispute Resolution to resolve their issues prior to proceeding to Court.

In most circumstances, mediations can generally be organised quickly and at a time that is convenient to both parties. Sometimes, and where appropriate, mediations might allow the parties an opportunity to deal with the psychological, social, and economic dynamics that often accompany and drive breakdowns in Family Law matters.

Central to the facilitative model of mediation is that the parties’ attendance at, and outcome of, mediation is completely voluntary. The voluntary nature allows the parties to be somewhat more creative with their options than what might otherwise be possible if they are before a Court. Mediation also allows the parties the opportunity to focus on their future relationship and to create solutions to the problems they are experiencing.

All parties and families are unique, and the resolution of their matter should be as closely aligned to their specific needs as is possible. The facilitative mediation model allows parties, with the assistance of their lawyers and mediators, to identify issues in dispute and then develop and consider solutions to those issues.

Mediation can be held before or after proceedings have commenced.

mediation services, Mediation and Alternatives to the Court Process, Merridy Elphick Lawyers

Family dispute resolution

Family dispute resolution is a mediation model specifically designed around resolving issues concerning care arrangements for children.

In most circumstances, parenting matters cannot commence in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court without the parties first having participated in family dispute resolution and obtaining a Section 60I certificate.

A Section 60I certificate can only be issued if:

There are some circumstances where mediation may not be required or deemed appropriate. This is most usual in circumstances that may constitute family violence or there is an issue of risk to a child.

The mediation process

Engagement of mediator

Following the engagement of the mediator an intake session will be conducted with each party individually.

It is important to remember that most people attend mediation with a desire to resolve their issues. If an agreement is reached, it is also possible for the agreement to be drafted and signed on the day.

Intake Session

The intake session provides the parties with an opportunity to give an outline of the issues that are important to them and for the mediator to determine whether the matter is actually suitable for mediation.


The mediation session may take between three and four hours but can take longer depending on the issues in dispute. Mediation outcomes can result in:
- A resolution of the issues in dispute; or
- A times some, but not all, of the issues, are resolved; or
- The parties agree to return for further negotiation or mediation; or
- parties proceed to Court.

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It is often preferable that mediation is undertaken as an alternative to court. Merridy Elphick is committed to facilitating meaningful mediations that balance the needs of all parties and avoid expensive and unnecessary court costs.