A quick beginner’s guide on the process of family mediation
A divorce is rarely simple and straightforward. Often, it is painful, complicated and draining, both financially and psychologically. Having an astute and professional solicitor by your side can help a lot in terms of getting through the process relatively quickly and with little baggage. What is equally helpful, however, is having a clear idea of how family mediation works as a process. So, if you have just filed paper for your divorce and have formally began separation proceedings, read through this great guide on how to get through the process.
What is family mediation?
The best way to start of this guide is to take a step back and break down what ‘family mediation’ means. As a basic concept, it can refer to a wide array of things. The proceedings can be formal or informal, depending on the situation. It could be you just having a conversation with your ex-partner or it could be a formal scenario, where there is a paid professional mediator involved.
In accordance to Australia law, separated households and partners must attempt family mediation or dispute resolution processes before they formally apply to the court for parenting orders. Having said this, there are scenarios where this step can be skipped, which include the following:
- When family violence and/or child abuse has occurred in the household
- When you are formalising consent orders
- When you are responding to an application from the court
What does a family mediation practitioner offer?
A family mediation practitioner can offer a wide range of services. They are an independent professional, trained in formal negotiation and arbitration methods. Most importantly, they are neutral and cannot take sides in any case or matter. They will facilitate the process by encouraging all parties involved to discuss all the issues in depth. It’s important that all the information is clarified and discussed appropriately before any formal steps are taken. Reconciliation is still an option at this point.
How long does the process take?
The length of the process is something that cannot be answered with a simple, exact number. For example, it may only take a few hours! Alternatively, it could take a few days or even weeks, depending on how many problems there are and how complex and entrenched they are. Reconciliation could occur quickly, while long-standing issues could be a point of concern, drawing out the proceedings.
How much will the process cost?
Family mediation is significantly cheaper than going to court, so it’s in your best interest to negotiate outside of the courtroom. The cost of dispute resolution proceedings is significantly lower because you won’t have to pay ongoing fees for a lawyer or hiring out a courtroom at the local court. Moreover, hiring out a professional negotiator is generally lower and hiring out a room to conduct the proceedings is also quite low.
Where will the negotiations take place?
Your family mediation provider can find a suitable location to conduct the formal proceedings. They can provide a suitable venue that will fit in with both parties’ schedules. Having said this, the session doesn’t always have to be face-to-face, even though in-person is generally preferable. If someone is constrained by location or other commitments, then the session can occur via telephone conversation, conference call or a video call (via a platform like Skype). This might be the most viable option because of relevant safety concerns or location problems, like extreme isolation and travelling difficulties.
As a result, hiring a practitioner to help with your family mediation could be a great choice if you want your separation to run smoothly. You may even find that reconciliation is a viable option. Either way, conciliation and negotiation processes can be a very helpful step.