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Family Law Mediation

Family law mediation is one of the first points of call during family law disputes because it is less formal cost effective and allows the parties to have greater control and management of the process and the outcome.

Meditation can provide a faster solution to the issues at hand and is a much more effective way of moving forward without having to go to court. Mediation is confidential and allows the parties to talk openly about the issues they are having, allowing each to be heard.

Parties in family law matters must make a genuine effort to resolve their dispute through family law mediation or family dispute resolution (FDR).

FDR is a type of family law mediation designed to assist separating families come to their own agreements. If the dispute cannot be resolved, the parties can then apply to a Family Law Court to have a judge make the decision. For parenting matters, a Section 60I certificate from an accredited family dispute practitioner must be filed with the application to begin proceedings, EXCEPT:

  • where the matter is urgent;

  • where is risk of abuse of the child or children;

  • where there is risk of family violence;

  • where a party is unable to participate effectively due to incapacity or physical remoteness; or

  • where there is a contravention of an existing order.

What is the first step?

You family lawyer will advise you of the most appropriate FDR service for you or you may contact a mediation service provider directly. Family law mediation involves attending a meeting with a neutral third party FDR practitioner. The practitioner is trained in mediation and negotiation specifically for family law disputes. There may be an “intake” session for a mediator to assess that the dispute is appropriate for mediation.

What if I don’t want to be in the same room as my ex-spouse?

If necessary, parties attending the family law mediation may do so through separate rooms if it is not suitable for them to be in one room. Both parties also have the option to have their lawyer present.

Mediation can also be conducted by Zoom.

What should I provide before the mediation?

Parties are required to disclose documents of their financial position and other relevant information. The FDR practitioner assesses the information, listens to both sides and assists the parties to come to an agreement. The main focus is to resolve the legal issues. Both parties have the opportunity to discuss their concerns in a safe and supportive environment.

In parenting matters, the parties will be encouraged to focus on the needs of their child or children so that a suitable parenting plan can be agreed to for future parenting arrangements. Disclosure in parenting matters is still required where appropriate, particularly when there are issues impacting safety of the children and/or parties.

What if I refuse to attend FDR?

Non-attendance demonstrates that you have not made a genuine effort to resolve the dispute through FDR.

After mediation, or if a party refuses to participate, the practitioner will issue a Section 60I certificate to allow an application to be made to a family law court.

This can affect your court hearing listing date and may be used as evidence put before the court that you have not made a genuine attempt at resolution. This may also result in you being made to pay the other party’s legal costs.

What happens if we resolve the dispute after mediation?

If the parties reach agreement, we strongly recommend that the agreement reached in mediation be formalised through consent orders and filed with the court. This will be a procedural step only and no court appearance should be required.

Final Parenting and/or Property Orders will then be issued by the court. The orders of the court are binding. There are consequences if the court orders are contravened (breached).

The Next Step

It is important to seek legal advice to help you understand your rights, responsibilities and the law applicable to your matter. Our experienced family lawyer Veronica Haccou and her team can explain the process further and assist you throughout all stages of your matter. Your first 30 minute consultation is free and we can provide you with a list of approved mediators and agencies that will be able to provide you appropriate services.

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