How does mediation work?
It has long been recognized that the adversarial court system is unsuitable for most family law matters. Mediation is a process where parties involved in a dispute come together to resolve their issues with the help of the mediator who is a neutral third party.
A clear benefit to engaging in mediation is that parties can explore options for resolution rather than engaging in a Court process which can be costly, time-consuming and emotionally draining.
Parties involved in family law matters can attend mediation for both financial and parenting matters.
Mediation can be timely and affordable compared to engaging in litigation that may be drawn out.
Mediation can also provide the parties involved with a level of control over their family law matter and allows them to actively negotiate and reach decisions without Court intervention.
It is recommended that parties attend mediation with their legal representative however it is not a requirement. A Lawyer will be able to help navigate the mediation process and prepare all relevant documentation ahead of time to ensure the mediation runs as smoothly as possible.
Generally, prior to mediation, the Mediator will conduct an intake session with each party or their legal representative. During this intake, the Mediator will seek to understand the key issues in dispute.
The mediation process generally takes a full day and parties can either be in the same room together or in different rooms, with the Mediator going from room to room to manage the communication between the parties.
The discussions that take place in the mediation rooms are confidential, and information is not relayed to the other party without the express consent of the party interacting with the Mediator. This also means the conversations exchanged between the parties and the Mediator cannot be used in Court proceedings.
The role of the Mediator is not to provide legal advice. The Mediator will assist the parties to identify the key issues in the dispute and help to generate possible solutions which may assist the parties to resolve their issues. Family law matters can be highly emotional, as can mediations. As the Mediator is a neutral third party, they are able to see past any heightened emotions between the parties and make suggestions for a resolution that may not have been previously considered.
If there is agreement following the Mediation, the parties’ legal representatives will then draft the required legal documents such as Heads of Agreement, a Parenting Plan, a Financial Agreement or Consent Orders to ensure finalisation of the matter.