Family Law Mediation

When a couple separates it is always best if they can reach agreement and amicably resolve any issues arising from their separation. Commencing family law court proceedings should always be a last resort due to the stress and cost. Our lawyers can help with family law mediation in relation to all aspects of family law matters including:

Understanding the Mediation Process

It can be helpful to understand some of the terminology that is used regarding mediation. Sometimes, mediation will also be referred to as Family Dispute Resolution (FDR), and the terms may be used interchangeably. Family dispute resolution is just a special type of mediation for helping separating families to reach their own agreements.

Mediation involves a neutral and independent third party, called the family Mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, who will facilitate discussions to help disputing parties find mutually acceptable solutions. The mediator listens to both sides, identifies issues, and explores options for resolution.

The objective of mediation is to foster comfortable discussions leading to agreements that may avoid court involvement.

Different Approaches to Mediation

There are type main approaches to mediation:

  1. Facilitative Family Mediation which emphasises parties’ autonomy and self-determination in reaching agreements. It encourages collaborative problem-solving and suits cases where ongoing relationships matter.
  2. Evaluative Family Mediation which involves experienced legal professionals providing insight into the legal aspects of each party’s position and helping the parties reach agreement within the parameters of the legal framework. This model is beneficial for more complex issues.

When Can Mediation Occur

Parties can engage in mediation at any stage. Most commonly it occurs before family law court proceedings are commenced, and Courts in fact generally require parties to have participated in mediation prior to commencing Court. However, it can also occur after family court proceedings have been commenced.

What Matters Are Suitable for Mediation

Mediation can be used to resolve a range of issues including property disputes, parenting matters, financial support, child support and breaches of court orders.

Sometimes a matter may be determined to be inappropriate to mediation if there has been a history of family violence. The mediation service will make this determination

How Long is the Mediation Session

The duration of mediation varies based on the complexity of the issues involved. It can run anywhere from a few hours through to a full day. In situations where there are multiple complex issues to be resolved a multi-day mediation may be required.

Where Does Mediation Take Place

Mediation can occur in person or online. With either of these options there is the option for parties to meet jointly with the mediator / family dispute resolution practitioner. However, in circumstances where this isn’t appropriate, or one party doesn’t feel comfortable, mediation may occur as shuttle mediation. This means there won’t be any direct contact or communication between the parties and the mediator will go back and forth between the parties.

How Much Does Mediation Cost

Mediation services range in price from free through to $6,000 for the day. There are mediation services available for all budgets. Generally, the mediation costs are paid equally by the parties.

What Happens If Mediation is Successful

Many matters can be resolved through mediation. If the parties reach agreement the agreement can be formalised with the assistance of a family lawyer.

What Happens if Mediation is Not Successful

If mediation is not successful, the Mediator can issue a certificate to allow an application to be made to the Family Law Courts. The certificate is called a ‘Section 60I certificate’.

A Section 60I certificate can also be issued if mediation is not appropriate for the situation, for example if there are concerns of family violence or the safety of the parties or any children.

The Section 60I certificate will say one of the following things:

  • The other party did not attend
  • You and the other party attended and made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • You and the other party attended but one or both of you did not make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute
  • The FDR practitioner decided your case was not appropriate for FDR, or
  • The FDR practitioner decided it was not appropriate to continue part way through the FDR process

If mediation fails to result in an agreement, parties can continue negotiations or pursue court proceedings.

Benefits of Mediation

Mediation has many advantages when compared with court proceedings. These advantages include:

  1. Faster resolution
  2. Less expensive
  3. Confidential
  4. Empowerment of the parties
  5. Flexibility

If you would like to discuss mediation for your matter, Contact us now for a free 20 minute phone consultation with one of our family lawyers.