Mediation is a form of ADR (amicable / alternative dispute resolution) which, for parenting matters, is a compulsory step you must take before you can file proceedings (unless your matter is urgent) and for property proceedings is a process you will likely be ordered to participate in upon commencing court proceedings, either by a private mediation or a Conciliation Conference.
What does it mean to go to mediation?
Mediation is a very important step in your resolution process, do not under value it. A mediation that has been properly prepared for can resolve your matter. If you can reach an agreement at mediation you will save yourself the expense of a final hearing, which is both a financial expense and an emotional expense.
Divorce Mediation Tips
Whether you are trying to negotiate a settlement out of court or have been ordered to attend mediation as part of the court process, the way you approach your upcoming mediation could be the difference between reaching an amicable resolution or continuing down the path to an expensive and emotionally draining final hearing.
How do I best prepare for family court mediation?
Irrespective of whether your mediation concerns division of property or arrangements for children there will be facts in dispute, there may also be facts that you are in agreement about. These will vary from matter to matter but may include a number of things.
Identify your Issues
|The length of the relationship and the date of separation.||Whether or not the parenting arrangements proposed are practical in the circumstances|
|The value of the property pool we are attempting to divide||Whether the parenting arrangements sought are in the children’s best interests|
|Each person’s contributions to the property pool.||Whether there are any risk factors associated with the children spending time with one parent and whether these risk factors can be overcome or otherwise mitigated by protective measures being in place|
|Whether or not you or your ex-partner has a future need that would warrant a greater percentage of the property pool.||What activities or important dates might need to be considered and worked around for the parenting arrangements to be workable in the long-term.|
By identifying these issues, you can then consider whether some issues can remain outstanding and a resolution reach in any event and what issues must absolute be investigated and determined before your matter has a chance of resolving. In parenting matters allegations of violence or sexual abuse are serious issues that cannot be ignored and your matter will need to proceed to a final hearing for final determination. In your circumstances, there may be some issues that cannot be resolved mediation, try and identify all the issues that are outstanding that could be resolved in preparation for your mediation.
Make an honest attempt to resolve the issues before mediation
Whether or not your mediation will be successful often relies upon the work that is undertaken in the lead up to a mediation. To give your mediation the best chance of success an honest and genuine attempt must be made, by both parties, to address the outstanding issues. For example, in the lead up to a mediation which will consider the division of assets, if there are any assets or liabilities that do not have an agreed value either attempting to negotiate an agreement or organising a formal valuation. By resolving the outstanding issues that can be resolved. By making a list of these issues and attempting to resolve them before mediation will allow you and your ex-partner to focus on what’s really important, trying to find a resolution that is fair and reasonable (and in the best interests of the children) in the circumstances.
Be Prepared to Compromise
Mediations are only successful when both parties approach the issues reasonably. There may be outstanding issues that could not be resolved or thoroughly investigated before your mediation date, that’s ok. Generally between four and six hours are set a side for mediation, this is not enough time to forensically dissect and determine your family law matter. What mediation is instead attempting to achieve it a resolution, in spite of the outstanding issues, that both yourself and your ex-partner can live with. Therefore, it is important to take some time before the day of your mediation to consider what arrangements you could live with, this is not about just accepting whatever is proposed but considering what settlement you could live with to benefit from the financial and emotional savings of not prolonging your matter by months if not years to a final hearing. The mediation can be draining and emotional and so to consider your options and understand what your bottom line before you attend mediation will make you feel more comfortable as you are proposing or considering settlement offers.