Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that takes place outside of the court system. At a mediation, the disputing parties come together, usually over the course of a day, and try to resolve their dispute with the assistance of a mediator. The role of the mediator is to assist the parties to reach agreement. They do this by helping the parties to understand the issues preventing them from reaching agreement and come up with solutions. A mediator is a neutral third party. They are there purely to facilitate the parties reaching agreement. It is not a mediator’s role to judge a matter and they will rarely if ever provide their own view on the issues.
The main difference between mediation and other forms of ‘alternate dispute resolution’ (‘ADR’) is that mediation is all about the parties reaching agreement themselves. For this reason, mediation is preferred over other forms of ADR for resolving family disputes because it is generally more important for the parties to preserve their relationship as they will need to continue to cooperate with each other for the foreseeable future.
The Family Courts recognise the above and are placing more and more resources in to moving parties away from the adversarial nature of the Courts and toward the collaborative nature of mediation. Examples of this include:
- You cannot commence Court proceedings for a parenting order without first attempting a mediation.
- After you have commenced Court proceedings, at your very first Court date the Court officer must consider referring the parties to another mediation.
- At various points throughout the proceedings the Court officer must continue to consider whether the matter is appropriate for further mediation.
This means that in the life of a family law dispute, parties will usually mediate multiple times before the Court even begins to consider scheduling a trial.
What are the benefit’s of instructing a lawyer to prepare for and attend your mediation with you?
- In any negotiation it is vital to know what your rights are and where you stand. A lawyer can give you tailored advice before, during, and after the mediation. There is always more than meets the eye in family law matters hence it is important to have access to updated advice as new information becomes available and the situation develops.
- There are rules and procedures to be followed for negotiating and mediating. Mistakes in negotiation and litigation can be costly. A lawyer is an expert in this area and will act as your safeguard against missing something or falling in to common traps for self-represented litigants.
- Once you have reached agreement you will likely be tired, exhausted and ready to sign and run. Agreements are usually complicated and full of legal terminology. A lawyer will look over the agreement before you sign and make sure that you understand exactly what you are agreeing to so that you do not get taken advantage of or ripped off.
- There are many different elements at play in a mediation and it is easy to become overwhelmed. A lawyer will help you get your thoughts in order and come up with a plan for the mediation. If you are having trouble getting your message across the room, your lawyer is there as your safety net to advocate for you on your behalf.
How can FC Lawyers assist you with Family Mediation?
If you have any questions regarding the above information or anything relating to family mediation, please contact our team today.
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