In Family Law, the terms Family Dispute Resolution and Mediation are used interchangeably. Mediation/Family Dispute Resolution is a process:
- In which a family dispute resolution practitioner (“Mediator”) helps people affected, or likely to be affected, by separation or divorce to resolve some or all their disputes with each other;
- In which the mediator is independent of all the parties involved in the process;
- That usually means a meeting, or meetings, with the parties, the mediator and possibly lawyers; and
- That can take place in person, in separate rooms, or by telephone.
The role of the Mediator is to assist the parties with a view to reach an agreement. It is not the role of the Mediator to give legal advice. The Mediator’s role also includes ensuring:
- The process is fair and civil
- That everyone has a chance to be heard
- The issues in dispute are identified
- All available options are explored
Understanding the Importance of Family Dispute Mediation
If you and an ex-spouse, or partner, are having a dispute about parenting matters, you must attempt Family Dispute Resolution (also referred to as Family Dispute Mediation) before using the family courts as a means of resolving the issue. With some exceptions, only after has been attempted and has proven unsuccessful does Australian law allow separated families to apply for parenting orders through a family law court. There are only limited exceptions to this rule. At Family Law Group Solicitors, we can help you explore this option.
For property disputes, mediation can ensure that both parties are negotiating within the scope of what is considered a reasonable outcome. Negotiations over property settlements can stall over just a few sentimental items or a small amount of monetary value. A family dispute mediator can help to break any deadlocks that prevent an agreement from being reached between the parties.
What You Can Expect from Family Law Group Solicitors Regarding Lawyer-Assisted Mediation
Many clients are unsure of what to expect when they enter into matters relating to or parenting dispute mediation. At Family Law Group Solicitors, there are a variety of ways we can help you through the mediation process, including:
- Attending mediation with you (except through a family relationships centre)
- Providing advice about process and outcomes before and after a mediation
- Developing potential solutions for use in a mediation process.
If you have any questions about how the process will look or what kind of outcomes it will seek, you can always reach out to our firm directly to learn more. In the meantime, here are the basics of the Family Dispute Resolution process:
- You and other affected parties will work with an independent mediator. Often, people assume that their lawyer will lead a family divorce mediation or parenting dispute mediation. In truth, this process is designed to be objective and impartial, which means the mediator assigned to your case must always be someone who is fully independent of all involved parties. Said another way, the mediator will be someone who does not have a pre-existing professional relationship with the clients.
- We can assist you in your mediation. While we will not always serve directly as mediators in your matter, we can always provide what is called ‘lawyer-assisted mediation.’ In most cases, we can attend mediation with you. We will also offer advice about the process, both before the mediation takes place and related to any outcomes that come about as a result of the arbitration.
- The mediation process will be objective and civil. The most significant benefit of mediation is the impartial nature of the process. The process and the objective approach behind it are valuable for getting a fresh perspective on your conflict and hopefully making headway towards a resolution.
If you have been thinking about applying for a parenting order from a family court, you must first sit down with a mediator for separated parents. Our offices in Caboolture have been host to Family Law mediations for parties from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane. We can help you set this process up and approach it in a way that will maximise the likelihood of an agreeable, problem-solving outcome.
How We Can Help With Family Divorce Mediation?
If we are already serving as your divorce lawyers, we cannot play the role of Family Dispute Resolution mediators for your matter. As mentioned above, the mediator must be independent of all the parties involved in the dispute. It would not be fair for the mediator in a formal Family Dispute Resolution situation to be someone who already has an existing working relationship with one partner/spouse or the other. However, if you are looking for a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner in Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast and have not worked with us in the past, we can help.
- We have a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner on our team. Hayley Cunningham, our firm’s legal practitioner director, is also a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner qualified to lead divorce mediations. Hayley has more than 15 years of experience practising family law and is also a skilled and experienced mediator.
- We can issue parenting mediation certificates. To seek a parenting order from a formal family court, you must first obtain a certificate from a registered mediator, certifying that mediation has been attempted.
- We will work hard towards an agreeable resolution. Sometimes, clients sit down with family law mediators in Brisbane, viewing the mediation process as little more than a formality. They know that mediation is necessary to get a 60i certificate and proceed with an application for a family court order. They might even have their mind made up that their dispute is so contentious that no mediation can arrive at an agreeable solution. Our goal is always to solve disputes through negotiation. Court battles are unpredictable, expensive and often extremely damaging to whatever relationships remain between the involved parties. Mediation, through a more controlled and less formal environment, can encourage productive conversations, highlight unexplored solutions and deliver outcomes that are agreeable to all parties.
Why You Should Try Family Dispute Mediation
Even if it weren’t a legal requirement for obtaining a parenting court order, Family Dispute Mediation would still be advisable for resolving contentious parenting disagreements, divorce/separation matters and more. At its best, led by a qualified and experienced professional, mediation can help inspire more empathetic and productive conversations than any courtroom battle.
If you are interested in pursuing mediation in Caboolture or Brisbane, give us a call at Family Law Group Solicitors. We are happy to act as your Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners or to assist as you work through mediation with an impartial third party.