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Tips for a successful Family Law mediation

Tips for a successful Family Law mediation

Published on January 20, 2023 by Anne KinnearAnne Kinnear

This article was written by Sharlotte Hoffman.

It is no secret that court proceedings are stressful, emotional, and overwhelming. Not to mention they are a costly and often a very drawn-out process. The Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (the Court) places a great emphasis on resolving matters outside of court.

Prior to commencing court proceedings, the Court Rules require parties to make a genuine attempt to resolve their dispute. For both parenting and property matters parties must, where safe to do so, participate in alternative dispute resolution (such as a mediation).

There are many benefits to undertaking a mediation, including:

  • An early resolution of the dispute.
  • The process is informal compared to court.
  • There is less cost to everyone involved.
  • It allows you more control over the outcome.
  • You have greater flexibility in what solutions are reached and how they can be implemented.

We have provided some tips below to help you to get the most out of your mediation.

1. Know what to expect on the day

Mediations are scheduled for a whole or half day and will generally start between 9am and 10am. Although half day mediations generally conclude at 1pm to 2pm, if you are close to reaching a settlement, they may run overtime to get the agreement over the line. You should arrange to take the day off work and/or have the children cared for so that you can arrive early, stay as long as may be needed and give the mediation your undivided attention.

Quite often the mediation runs into your lunch break. It is therefore important to start your day with a healthy breakfast and pack some snacks in case you need extra fuel.

2. Be prepared

We have all heard the saying “preparation is key to success” and it is no different in your family law mediation. The success of a mediation can be dependent on the preparation that is done beforehand. Some ways to prepare include:

  • Providing the other party with any up-to-date disclosure so that the value of the property pool can be established.
  • Trying to agree on the value of the property pool prior to the mediation and if not resolve any dispute in relation to the value of assets either by agreement or obtaining a joint formal valuation.
  • Making a list of your options for settlement including your ideal outcome and your bottom line.
  • Considering whether your outcomes are realistic for example, if you want to keep the former matrimonial home, you should enquire what your borrowing capacity is to ensure you can refinance. This will help you to feel more confident when making decisions during the mediation.

3. Be prepared to compromise

    Most arguments and disputes are resolved by compromises, and family law disputes are no different. The willingness of both parties to make compromises will impact how and when your matter is resolved.

    Prior to the mediation you should take time to consider what issues you may be willing to compromise on. If you can find common ground with your former spouse/partner instead of focusing on areas of disagreement you will be more likely to reach a resolution.

    4. Be aware of your emotions

    Mediations can be a stressful experience. It is natural to feel overwhelmed and emotional. It is important to recognise these emotions and take control of them during the mediation process. If emotions become too heightened during the mediation process, ask for a break and step away from the negotiations to gather your thoughts.

    In some circumstances it may be appropriate to take a support person with you to the mediation. Your support person is unable to speak for you, however they are there to give you emotional, physical or other support on the day.

    5. Focus on the bigger picture

    A mediation tends to be more successful when both parties have the capacity to focus on the bigger picture. Towards the end of the day, it is easy to become tired and focus on the detail rather than taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. By thinking bigger, you are less likely to worry over details that may have little significance in the future. For example, arguing over a couple of thousand dollars may not be worth risking the financial cost and stress associated with court.

    If you would like assistance in an upcoming family law mediation or would like to initiate the mediation process, contact Sharlotte Hoffman, Lawyer on 02 4032 1704 or alternatively, speak to one of our other family lawyers.

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