Mediation is a great method of resolving a dispute in both parenting and property matters in family law. Two of the biggest advantages of family law mediation are the time that it will save you going through the court system, and the cost is significantly less. Mediations which have been properly prepared for have a high rate of success.
Mediation involves an independent third person (a mediator) assisting the parties to resolve a dispute. The mediator does not determine the outcome. This gives you and your ex-partner/spouse greater control of the outcome, rather than having someone else (eg, a Judge) determine who gets what.
The mediation can take place face to face, or it could be a shuttle mediation, where you will not meet your ex-partner/spouse face to face. This method is often preferred where there is a history of family violence in the relationship.
A mediation typically lasts for 3-6 hours. Some mediations go for longer than this, so it is a good idea not to have anything else scheduled on the day of your mediation.
Before you get to the mediation for a property settlement it is important that both parties exchange full and frank financial disclosure and sort out any valuation issues.
A family law mediation (except for a shuttle mediation) typically begins with a joint session. In property matters, the parties, their legal representatives, and the mediator discuss the assets and debts of the relationship, the contributions made by both parties and any future needs issues (such as care of the children). In a parenting matter the joint session will discuss any issues regarding the parents and the care of the children.
Some parenting matters may benefit from a ‘child inclusive’ mediation. In this, a counsellor will speak to the parties and the children prior to the mediation, and then attend the mediation to aid in reaching a resolution which benefits all parties, including the children.
After the joint sessions, each party will usually go into a separate room with their solicitor and the mediator will go between each room, exchanging offers between the parties and assisting them to resolve their dispute.
If agreement is reached it is generally not formalised on the day. The parties may sign a document setting out the agreement, but it is not binding until Court Orders are made, or a Financial Agreement is entered into.
If agreement is not reached at the family law mediation then you will need to either continue negotiating with the other party or commence court proceedings. If your mediation was for parenting arrangements, you will be issued with a section 60I certificate which you will need to attach to your application to the Court.
Our team can assist you by providing expert advice and legal support regarding your options. Contact us today on (02) 4929 3995 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catherinehenrylawyers.com.au