Mediation should be a collaborative process in which you and the other parties involved work together to address the issues and come to an agreement that you and your former partner can live with.
Like every successful negotiation, there is give and take. If you’re not willing to give a little, your path to a successful mediation with being fraught and you’re likely to litigate to prove your point and it will cost you substantially in more ways than one.
What can I expect during mediation?
Mediation is generally conducted in a neutral setting. You and your ex-partner will both be asked to attend, along with your lawyers (and without lawyers too), and the mediator will lay certain ‘ground rules’ for the day once everyone is there. These are frequently customised to meet your specific demands and objectives. You and your former partner have complete control over the format of your mediation session.
A ‘shuttle procedure’ is frequently employed where your lawyer (if you have one) and you will be in one room, while your partner and their reps will be in another. To foster dialogue, the mediator will circulate between these rooms.
The session can be held in the same room if you and your partner are still comfortable with each other and on speaking terms. If you can’t be in the same room, you’ll need to let your mediator know ahead of time.
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What should I do to be ready for my mediation?
To offer yourself the best chance of resolving your issue, you should be well-prepared. It’s critical to be fully prepared for a mediation session since it may be the final chance you meet with your former partner to resolve the situation on your own terms without going to trial.
Before you hire a mediator, make sure you’ve done the following:
- Read every document related to your matter, including any that your ex-partner has filed or produced. Ascertain that you are familiar with all of the documents and that you can respond to them during the mediation session.
- Write down your thoughts to assist you to clarify your stance and why you feel the way you do.
- Write a brief statement summarising your perspective, including any major points you’d like to address. Keep it short (no more than a couple of paragraphs) and avoid getting bogged down in small points.
- Make a list of everything you’ve previously agreed to and everything you haven’t.
- Make a list of what is most essential to you and what you are prepared to give up.
- Think about the situations in which you’d be willing to compromise.
- Gather copies of any important papers. Because this isn’t a trial, you won’t need every document, but having copies of important documents on hand is a good idea.
- Consult your lawyer about your plan (if relevant).
- Consider the costs of bringing the matter to trial and the repercussions of rejecting a settlement offer.
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When will mediation come to an end?
Hopefully, by the conclusion of your mediation, both you and your former partner have reached an agreement. Once agreement is reached, it can be made into what is called, “consent orders” which are legally enforceable.
If you are unable to reach an agreement, your matter may progress to court. It’s vital to keep in mind that if your case goes to court, you’ll be faced with uncertainty regarding the decision since it’s near impossible to anticipate the outcome with a high degree of accuracy. As a result, if at all feasible, try to end your mediation session with an agreement.
What will mediators do?
Mediators will take an unbiased approach to assist you in resolving or better managing your conflict. They don’t “advocate for any party.” Their role is to help you communicate with one another and establish agreements. They do it by establishing ground rules and posing questions (usually to one person at a time). They’ll assist you in identifying the difficulties and concerns that need to be addressed. They will urge you to brainstorm solutions after concerns and interests have been identified.
Before going to mediation, make an honest effort to settle the issues in dispute.
The effort done in the run-up to mediation frequently determines whether or not your mediation will be effective. To offer your mediation the best possibility of success, both parties must make an honest and genuine effort to resolve the underlying problems that are in dispute. For example, if there are any assets or obligations that do not have an agreed value in the run-up to a mediation that will address asset division, it is prudent to try to reach an agreement or arrange a formal valuation. Making a list of these concerns and seeking to resolve them before mediation will allow you and your ex-partner to concentrate on what matters most: trying to reach a fair and reasonable (and in the best interests of the children) resolution under the circumstances.
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Prepare to make sacrifices
Mediation is only successful when both parties are reasonable in their approach to the difficulties. It’s fine if there are concerns that haven’t been resolved or completely researched before your mediation session. Mediation sessions often last four to six hours, which is insufficient time to forensically analyse and determine your family law dispute.
Mediation, on the other hand, is an attempt to reach an agreement that you and your ex-partner can live with, notwithstanding any unresolved concerns. As a result, it’s critical to set aside some time before your mediation to evaluate what arrangements you might be able to live with. This isn’t about taking anything that is offered; it’s about determining what settlement is best for you financially and emotionally while also not prolonging your case unnecessarily until a final hearing. Because mediation may be taxing and stressful, thinking about your alternatives and understanding your bottom line before you go can help you feel more at ease when you propose and examine settlement proposals.
What Should You Do Now?
At Mediations Australia, we have a team of family lawyers and mediators who can assist you in Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and all other locations in Australia. We also do international family law matters.