After months (or weeks, or days, or years!) of waiting, you have finally got a date for lawyer assisted family law mediation with your partner. We want to give you some insight about what to expect.
Before the family law mediation:
1. You will be asked to provide financial disclosure to your former partner in a property settlement matter. This comes in a variety of forms, but essentially you each need to be satisfied that you are fully informed about your former partner’s financial circumstances, as they are of yours.
2. You will be given options in relation to the right mediator for you. It is important that you listen to the advice of your lawyer on this one. We know you, and we know all the best mediators. This means we will do what we can to find the right mediator to help you and your former partner to reach an agreement.
3. You will need to think about your “bottom line”. To help you to do this, you will be given advice about possible outcomes if you were to go to Court. This will allow you to work out what you are prepared to accept (or not accept).
4. You will need to think about what is important to you. Regardless of the advice we might give you about Court outcomes, there may be aspects that are more or less important to you. For example, you might want to maximise your time with your children over weekends or after working hours with your parenting arrangements, or you may prefer to retain more of your superannuation rather than non-superannuation assets in a property settlement.
5. You will feel anxious. This is completely normal, if you feel nervous or anxious about the prospect of seeing your former partner in this type of environment, you should speak to your lawyer, we’ve got plenty of strategies to help you through it.
At the mediation:
1. You will have to compromise. I can guarantee that you will not walk away with your ideal outcome. Neither will your former partner. The whole point of mediation is to see if you can reach an agreement that you can both live with (live with, not love!).
2. You will be told about your alternatives, including the delays, cost and likely outcomes at Court.
3. You will spend a fair bit of time waiting around. This is because at times the lawyers will need to discuss legal issues with the mediator, or the mediator is speaking with your former spouse or documents are being drafted. This doesn’t mean you’re not 100% essential to the process, it is just reflective of our role as your advocate, and we will make sure everything is explained to you as we go.
After the mediation:
You will feel exhausted!
If you reach an agreement:
1. You will feel anxious/upset/unsure/doubtful. You will probably not feel great about the outcome straight away, but you will have closure and will not have to worry about the prospect of Court looming over you.
If you don’t reach an agreement:
1. This is not the end of the line for an agreement. You can continue to negotiate (through your lawyers or directly) after the mediation. You (or the other party) might “sleep on it” and realise that you can compromise a bit further in order to reach an agreement.
2. If agreement is not possible, you will be advised about your alternative, which may include going to Court.
If you have a family law mediation scheduled or think this might be an appropriate way for you to finalise your property settlement or parenting arrangements, get in touch, we’d love to help you get there.
Victoria Blakeley is a senior solicitor at our Canberra office.