Families navigating separation and property settlement can now get on-the-spot legal advice at Centacare to help resolve disputes out of court.

Centacare has launched Legally Inclusive Practice (LIP) with the aim of supporting families to reach mutual agreement in a respectful and non-adversarial way.

Under the service model, legal representatives can advise their clients in real time during mediation of proposals, decisions and legal implications to assist families to reach fair and equitable outcomes.

An accredited, qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner `shuttles’ between separate rooms to facilitate respectful negotiations between parties.

The process aims to support clients to achieve efficient and cost-effective outcomes by:

  • Providing legal advice on matters discussed in the mediation session
  • Assisting clients in the discovery of assets and liabilities
  • Encouraging clients to reach an outcome during Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)
  • Ensuring families and parents reach a resolution that is safe and in the best interests of their children.

Centacare is offering LIP across metropolitan Adelaide, and in regional South Australia, from the Adelaide Hills through to Mount Gambier.

The Family Law Act 1975 requires prospective parties to attempt to resolve their dispute before initiating court proceedings known as ‘pre-action procedures’.

The objective of pre-action procedures is to assist parties to resolve their differences quickly and fairly, and to avoid adversarial court action where possible.

Common disputes include the distribution and splitting of debt, loans and assets such as property, superannuation, share portfolios, motor vehicle ownership and even household items and valuable jewellery.

‘’Legally Inclusive Practice is a game-changer for families wanting to resolve their issues in a more cost effective and timely manner,’’ FDR Manager Andy Wong said.

‘’The fee schedule is minor in comparison to court and legal expenses.

‘’A family might spend up to $400 in mediation to reach agreement on issues that could cost them upwards of $30,000 to resolve in court.

‘’Legally Inclusive Practice is often a quicker, more collaborative and affordable option for resolving financial and property disputes and can lessen the emotional cost for families attempting to reach agreement.’’

Centacare has been providing Family Dispute Resolution for more than 30 years.

Andy said the introduction of LIP would not only strengthen the existing supports available to families but would help address a gap in services in metropolitan and regional South Australia.

‘’It will enable us to streamline the support we can offer families at what is always a very challenging time in their lives,’’ he said.

ABS data shows there were 56,244 divorces granted in Australia in 2021 an increase of 13.6% when compared with 2020 (49,510).

In addition to Legally Inclusive Practice, Centacare FDR supports include:

  • Evidence and research-based information sessions around how to support children while navigating separation
  • Child inclusive practices that enable the voice of the children to be heard by parents in a safe and supported way
  • Co-parent coaching to support parents to address challenges impeding their ability to work together in a respectful manner in the best interests of their children
  • Family law counselling for one-on-one support.

Special thanks to Marciano Lawyers and WestSide Lawyers for their guidance in developing this service.

For more information about Family Dispute Resolution Legally Inclusive Practice, email fdr@centacare.org.au or phone your nearest Centacare site.

Adelaide: 45 Wakefield St – (08) 8215 6700

Mount Gambier: 13 Penola Rd – (08) 8303 6630

Murray Bridge: 1A/2 Sturt Reserve Rd – (08) 8215 6320

Elizabeth Park: 34 Yorktown Rd – (08) 8252 2311

Pictured, from left: Family Dispute Resolution team members Andy, Caroline, Pascale, Ceri, Rebecca, Ella and Gordon.