Welcome

Hi, I’m Stephen Bell,

I have practised in family law since 1986 and for over 10 years have been an Independent Children’s Lawyer appointed by the Court to represent children in Family Law matters.

MEDIATION

I have practised in family law since 1986 and for over 10 years have been an Independent Children’s Lawyer appointed by the court to represent children in Family Law matters.

Given the long delays in bringing family law matters to a final hearing, mediation offers a quick and cost-effective solution.  Hopefully it will allow your client to reach an agreement that they have control over and are happy with.

When acting as a mediator, I offer no legal advice to replace independent or expert advice.   I encourage solicitors, barristers and Independent Children’s Lawyers to attend the mediation

I am located in the Sydney CBD at 65 York Street (corner Barrack Street) Sydney and offer the use of seminar rooms at my office.

I am flexible and willing to conduct the mediation at a time that suits the parties although I would require the parties to set aside at least 2 to 3 hours for the process.

I offer pre-meditation conferences to the parties and their legal representatives to fully explain the process and to prepare them to make the most of a mediation.

It is my practice to have parties at the mediation agree to Terms of Settlement (not Heads of Agreement) and execute them even if they need to be fully engrossed at a later date.

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

The Mediator Standards’ Board describes mediation as:

‘. . . a process in which the participants, with the support of the mediator, identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives and make decisions about future actions and outcomes. The mediator acts as a third party to support participants to reach their own decision. Approval Standards November 2008.’

(http://www.msb.org.au/about-mediation/what-mediation)

WHY MEDIATE?

Mediation offers an informal means of resolving disputes, without the need for preparation of expensive documents and without the need for attendance at court events.

  • Mediations take place at a time and location to suit the parties and the mediator.
  • Mediation offers an opportunity for parties to tailor the process and the resolution of their dispute to suit their needs and circumstances.
  • Mediation is private.
  • Mediation usually costs much less for a family than litigation, with the result that more of the family’s property is available to the parties and their children.

WHAT HAPPENS AT MEDIATION?

My mediations include:

  • Joint sessions that provide an opportunity for the parties or their representatives to set out their interests / concerns to the other party or representative;
  • Private sessions with the mediator to discuss possible agreements to meet each party’s particular interests / concerns;
  • Joint sessions to discuss preferred outcomes;
  • Recording of agreements reached; and
  • If agreement isn’t reached, assistance with narrowing issues between the parties, thereby reducing Court time and expense.

I  require each party to a mediation to agree that everything said at the mediation is confidential and may not be used in any subsequent court proceeding.

I am aware of the need to preserve safety for parties and to ensure that each party is able to negotiate on a level playing field.

I am trained to recognise power imbalances between parties and to take steps to promote parties’ self-determination in the mediation.

 

Accredited Specialist

The title “Accredited Specialist” is granted by The Law Society of New South Wales to solicitors with extensive experience in an area of law and who undertake further study and peer assessment and review. It guarantees to the public that the particular solicitor is highly efficient and effective in that area of law. Stephen Bell has been an accredited specialist in Family Law for over 30 years.

First Interview free.

It is important to know what your rights and entitlements are at the beginning of a matter. The first interview gives you an overview that allows you to make informed decisions. If you decide to precede with your matter then normal rates are charged for the first interview

Specialist Chambers

Stephen Bell is a member of The Clarence Professional Group and has been for over 10 years. This is a Chambers of specialist Accountants, Forensic Accountants, Financial Advisers and Lawyers. Stephen Bell has to access specialist knowledge that may be required by your case. These experts can sit in on conferences and provide advice.

Independent Children’s Lawyer

This is a lawyer appointed by the Court to represent children for over 12 years. This has given him specialised knowledge and expertise in this area of Family Law.

Committed to settling disputes

Every effort is made to reach a settlement. Mediation and counselling are now compulsory in parenting matters. You need to have a clear understanding of what is a reasonable settlement to be able to engage in meaningful negotiations. The majority of matters settle without the need for a final hearing. You are encouraged to take every opportunity to reach settlement and all avenues that may achieve settlement are explored or offered.

OUR PEOPLE

Stephen Bell is a specialist Family Law lawyer with extensive experience in other areas of law such as Conveyancing, Wills and Estates, Criminal law and debt recovery.

Believes lawyers should be try to seek solutions and not become part of the problem.

Committed to resolving issues in a cost-effective way and setting realistic goals.

Positions

  • Admitted New South Wales 1987
  • Accredited Family Law Specialist 1996
  • Panel of Independent Children’s Lawyers 2005
  • Past Chairman of Kirribilli Neighbourhood Centre
  • Past Deputy Convenor of Downing Centre Pro Bono Duty Solicitor Roster
  • Past President of Sydney of City Law Society 2013-2015

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Diploma of Education
  • Accredited Specialist Family Law

AREAS OF PRACTICE

Family Law & De Facto Relationships

Stephen Bell’s family lawyers can provide assistance for a range of matters relating to family law and de facto relationships, including:

  • Custody disputes
  • Cohabitation Agreements
  • Divorce & separation
  • Spousal maintenance
  • Division of property & assets
  • Child support and child protection

Wills, Probate, Estate Planning & Succession Acts Claims

Stephen Bell offers one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to obtain a will in the Sydney CBD area. We can assist you with:

  • Drafting & updating wills;
  • Applying for Probate;
  • Assistance with claims against wills & estates
  • Deceased estate claims / defending deceased estates
  •  Estate planning administration
  • Letters of Administration (in the event that a will is deemed invalid);
  • Supreme Court estate litigation; and
  • We always recommend keeping your will up to date as it makes distributing your estate far easier on your beneficiaries in what is already a hard enough time as it is.

Letters of Administration

In the some-what complicated event that a valid will has not been left, Stephen Bell can assist you with applying for Letters of Administration to the Supreme Court of NSW. In these circumstances, there is legislation that details how an estate may be distributed and by whom. The Supreme Court can appoint an Administrator to distribute the estate under the Wills, Probate and Administration Act 1898.

In the some-what complicated event that a valid will has not been left, Stephen Bell can assist you with applying for Letters of Administration to the Supreme Court of NSW. In these circumstances, there is legislation that details how an estate may be distributed and by whom. The Supreme Court can appoint an Administrator to distribute the estate under the Wills, Probate and Administration Act 1898.

The Succession Act 2006

If you expected to be a beneficiary of a will but have not been provided for, you can make a claim against the distribution of any estate under The Succession Act 2006 t, provided you can clearly set out reasons as to why you should be considered a beneficiary of the deceased estate.

Probate

Stephen Bell can help you apply to the Supreme Court of NSW for Probate in instances where there is a valid will and you have been nominated as Executor of that will. The Supreme Court can then grant probate which authorises you to distribute the deceased estate in accordance with the provisions of the will.

Local Court Appearances & Children’s’ Matters

  • Stephen Bell can represent you in Local Court and assist you with the following matters:
  • Apprehended violence orders (AVOs)
  • Drink driving offences (for low, medium and high-range PCA offences)
  • Small claims
  • Civil matters with claims
  • Criminal / summary prosecutions
  • Committal hearings

COSTS

My fees are based on an hourly rate with time units of 6 minutes.  If a mediation last for 2 hours then the costs will be for 2 hours not a set block amount.  I provide draft Cost Agreement I would require the parties to sign

Download Mediation Cost Agreement