Family law mediation is appropriate for parents who are civil with each other, as well as for parents experiencing high conflict. Where there are power imbalances between parents, it is the role of the mediator as an unbiased third party to place them on an even playing field throughout the mediation, which may be achieved by ensuring that each parent effectively communicates their interests and concerns, or even by conducting Shuttle Mediation, which is mediation from two separate rooms.
Unfortunately, family law mediation is not appropriate for every case. As a process, it may not be appropriate where legal issues need to be determined, where a document needs to be interpreted, or where an urgent injunction is required. In addition, mediation as a process may not be appropriate where there is a history of intimidation and domestic violence between parents, or where there is a power imbalance that is such that it prevents one parent from effectively participating during the mediation.
Mediation in family law is a confidential process, in that anything discussed during the mediation session will not be repeated outside of the mediation session. Furthermore, the mediator is an unbiased and independent third person who has no interest in the outcome of the mediation. Hence, the mediator is generally bound not to reveal what the parents have said during the mediation session, albeit there are exceptions to this, including:
Outside of these exceptions, family mediation exists as a confidential process, which is distinct from going to court, where hearings are recorded, transcribed and even covered in newspaper articles and editorials.
Family mediation is much faster than going to court, since mediation is organised for when the parents are available, rather than when the court is ready to schedule a date, which can sometimes be as long as 12 months into the future.
Family mediation is much cheaper than going to court, because mediation avoids the expensive costs of barristers, solicitors, filing fees, court fees, and witness expenses.
Mediation is also confidential but for the exceptions, as previously discussed. Therefore, parents can avoid newspaper reports, court reports and transcription, all of which is a significant advantage for parents with public profiles.
Furthermore, mediation allows the parents to maintain a working co-parental relationship due to the positive and constructive environment that mediation offers, as distinct from the adversarial and litigious nature of going to court.
During mediation, the parents make the decisions about their children and property, not the judge, the lawyers or anyone else. Therefore, family mediation is empowering for the parents.
Finally, family mediation is an informal process, because it does not have the formal protocol or procedures that the court has, thus making it easier for the parents.
During the mediation, the mediator will:
The mediator will not:
It is important that you obtain legal advice. You may do this before, during and after the mediation process. We recommend, as a minimum, that you obtain legal advice prior to the mediation.
Family Dispute Resolution is a process of mediation where a neutral and unbiased third party (a mediator defined under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) assists separated parents in discussing matters relating to their children and property. As a form of assisted negotiations, the mediator’s role is to provide structure to the process, as well as help parents in communicating with each other within a safe environment. Agreements that are reached are typed and provided to the parents.
All of our mediators are Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners who are duly registered with the Department of the Federal Attorney-General. They are authorised to provide Family Dispute Resolution and issue section 60I certificates in relation to parenting matters.