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Family dispute resolution and access to justice in Australia

  • Lola Akin Ojelabi (a1) and Judith Gutman (a2)

Abstract

The context of this paper is the several innovative reforms since the Australian government changed the family-law system more than forty years ago with the enactment of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Whilst no-fault divorce was introduced over four decades ago, the watershed effect of replacing a blaming culture with a collaborative problem-solving approach to family disputing has provided a stepping stone for a progressive pathway to less adversarialism in family conflict. This narrative resonates throughout the family-law system today. It also continues to guide the justice discourse in family matters. This paper focuses on developments in the family-law system canvassing several legislative amendments that demonstrate the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a means of improving access to justice in relation to family disputes in Australia. It is argued that, in the family-law system, justice and ADR are inextricably linked. In support of this contention, the growth, development and evaluation of family dispute resolution is considered; access to justice issues that arise are highlighted. Finally, it reviews ramifications for the future considering recommendations from the recent inquiry into the family-law system.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. E-mail: o.akinojelabi@latrobe.edu.au

References

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Keywords

Family dispute resolution and access to justice in Australia

  • Lola Akin Ojelabi (a1) and Judith Gutman (a2)

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