Australian Family Lawyers Resolution Centre
Mediation is a form of Dispute Resolution which attempts to resolve disputes between parties without having to contend with the Court system. It is a less adversarial process than a Court based one. It is a meeting or series of
meetings, where an independent and neutral third party (known as the Mediator) leads and facilitates discussion between the parties to a dispute and assists those parties to negotiate and if possible reach an agreement.
What is the process of Mediation?
Parties to a dispute choose a Mediator, usually one with expertise in the particular area of the dispute. For example, in family law disputes, parties would wisely choose a Mediator with considerable family law experience. The Mediator usually conducts an intake with each of the parties (and if represented, also their lawyers) separately to ascertain the issues in dispute and the manner in which to approach the Mediation. Sometimes it might be appropriate for the parties (and their lawyers) to be in the same room attempting to resolve the issues. On other occasions that might not be appropriate due to e.g. domestic violence issues or unequal bargaining power between the parties. In those situations it may be preferable for the Mediation to conducted in separate rooms where the Mediator “shuttles” between the rooms.
During this current COVID 19 pandemic many Mediations are being conducted by a video conferencing platform such as Zoom and so the parties are not coming into physical contact.
What happens if you don’t agree in Mediation?
If there is no agreement in Mediation, then the dispute needs to be resolved in some other manner, usually by way of a Court determination or an Arbitration Hearing.
A Court Determination or an Arbitration Hearing however precludes the parties ability to have a say in the outcome. The advantages of Mediation are then no longer available. Such advantages include:
Advantages to Mediation
- Creates a positive climate for joint decision making.
- Improves communication (essential for cooperation as parents).
- Facilitates negotiations and agreements.
- Can deal with all parenting and financial issues together.
- Can be arranged quickly and is confidential and discreet.
- Avoids the delay, stress, costs and adversarial nature of Court proceedings
Whether you are negotiating a divorce settlement, child support arrangements, property settlements, or any other form of dispute, negotiating takes great skill and understanding. When going through a separation, this process can be overwhelming.
It is important to consider methods of Alternate Dispute Resolution such as Mediation, as having a neutral mediator can help everyone involved quickly reach an agreement. The Mediator acts as an impartial third party and often produce good results for all involved.
At AFLRC we embrace Mediation to resolve family law disputes. We believe in working together, where possible, to achieve a desired outcome for both parties.
An ounce of mediation is worth a pound of arbitration and a ton of litigation. Joseph Grynbaum