What is Mediation?
Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a mediator (an independent third party specially trained in helping two parties reach an agreement) facilitates communication between you and your former partner in the hope of reaching an agreement.
During a family law mediation you and your former partner and your legal representation will discuss both parties’ wishes and try to come to an agreement that suits both parties and any children involved. Depending on the type of mediation, you can discuss all aspects of your dispute in a mediation including property settlement and arrangements for the children as well as other issues which you might not normally bring up in court, for example who gets to keep the cat, the children’s time with their friends or the baby’s feeding and sleeping routines.
Unlike a Judge or Registrar at Court, the mediator is not able to impose a decision on you or your former partner. Mediation is all about coming to an agreement together. It puts you in the control seat and enables you to make sure that all of your concerns have been addressed.
Where does mediation occur?
A mediation is usually conducted at either your lawyers office or the other parties’ solicitors office. If this is not available or convenient another office location can also be arranged.
We often like to host mediations at our FGD Canberra office so that we can take advantage of our great meeting rooms and modern office layout. We will usually book out a big meeting room for group party discussions, a room for the mediator and break out rooms so that you and your solicitor can have some space and privacy to discuss how the mediation is going throughout the day.
We also make pretty good coffee which of course is available throughout the day ☺
Is mediation a one off thing?
Sometimes an agreement can be reached in a matter of hours or over the course of one day.
Sometimes you may have to attend more than one mediation in order to reach an agreement with your former partner.
What happens if you reach an agreement?
If you and your former partner reach an agreement at the end of your mediation, the solicitors will draft up ‘Terms of Settlement’ or ‘Heads of Agreement’ which is a document that outlines what you have agreed to and something you can refer to until Orders are made. After the mediation usually the solicitors will draft up consent orders based on the mediation agreement and, once finalised, these consent orders will be sent to the court for filing. The court will then make Orders based on the Consent Orders – These are legally binding and enforceable orders.
Why is mediation a good option?
It’s cost effective. Mediation is usually considerably less than the cost of ongoing litigation.
It’s time efficient. The courts have a huge waiting list and a non-urgent application can take between 8- 12 months (or longer) to be heard. A mediation can occur as soon as the mediator that you both agree on is available. Once you reach an agreement at mediation the process to get consent orders drafted, signed and filed is relatively straightforward. Orders are usually made with 30 days.
Less emotionally draining. Going to court can be a very stressful and emotionally exhaustive process. A mediation has the benefit of being less formal and more relaxed than a court appearance. It can also help you feel more in control of your own result than you would in a court room where you would have little opportunity to talk.
It Works! Mediation has great results and a huge percentage of mediations will settle without having to go to court.
It’s Confidential! Any information talked about in mediation with your lawyer is covered by legal privilege. This means that any information disclosed during the mediation cannot be used in later court proceedings.