At Catherine Henry Lawyers we believe in trying to resolve matters as quickly as possible, as long as you can come to a good outcome. One of the possible steps in trying to resolve matters is Mediation (sometimes called family dispute resolution).
What is Mediation?
Mediation is when you and your former partner attend a meeting with an independent mediator. Lawyers can be present. You and your former partner can meet together with the mediator or you can be in separate rooms and have shuttle mediation.
Mediation can assist in resolving disputes relating to children and/or property settlement.
Some of the advantages of mediation are:
- It is cheaper than having a court case
- It can occur quickly. An outcome can be reached long before a court decision.
- You have more control over the outcome. A decision is not being imposed on you by a judge
Normally, each party pays one half of the cost of mediation.
Subject to some exceptions, you cannot file an Application with a court seeking parenting orders unless you have a certificate from a family dispute resolution practitioner. The certificate can state one of a number of things including: –
- That you and your former partner attended family dispute resolution and made a genuine effort to resolve the issues but could not do so;
- That you did not attend family dispute resolution because your former partner failed to attend; or
- That you did not attend family dispute resolution because it was not appropriate to do so e.g. because of family violence.
You do not have to have a certificate for reasons including:-
- There has been abuse of the child by one of the parties;
- There has been family violence by one of the parties; or
If an agreement is reached at the mediation then it should be formalised by way of a parenting plan or consent orders.
Private mediation has become much more popular in property settlements. Our experience is that private mediation has a high prospect of success, particularly when each party has their lawyer attend with them.
It is not compulsory to have a mediation prior to commencing court proceedings, but it is a very good idea.
For mediation to be success there needs to be thorough preparation. This includes obtaining and disclosing: –
- Appraisals/valuations of all real estate
- Appraisals of all motor vehicles (e.g. go to www.redbook.com.au)
- Up to date superannuation statements
- Documents showing the value of all other assets e.g. latest dividend statement to show the number of shares held
- Bank account statements
- Financial statements for any business and, if necessary, having the business valued prior to the mediation
If the mediation is successful then the agreement will need to be formalised. Normally this will take place after the mediation by way of consent orders or financial agreement. If the mediation is unsuccessful then your options are Arbitration (property matters only) or Court. Arbitration is becoming increasingly popular as it resolves the matter much more quickly than Court and the cost is similar.
*This information is supplied as general advice only. For expert advice relating to your specific family law issue, contact one of our experienced and professional family law solicitors on 02 4929 3995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org