These days mediation is a required step before many family law matters may proceed to court action. In many cases, the former partners will resolve their areas of disagreement at this stage, saving time, money and a lot of stress. The collaborative nature of mediation, guided by a neutral third-party in the mediator, can also help ex-couples maintain a civil discourse beyond their dispute.
The increased use of mediation in family law poses a challenge for lawyers who specialise in this area. Lawyers are trained for the adversarial nature of the courtroom, where the final decision of the judge causes one party to be the ‘winner’ and one the ‘loser’.
Mediation, by comparison, is designed to empower the parties in dispute to come up with their own solutions to resolve their disagreements and so lawyers have a different, yet still important, role.
Our Brisbane mediation experts at Mediations Australia have backgrounds in both mediation and as family law practitioners, meaning we offer the best of both worlds.
How can a lawyer help with family law mediation?
Lawyers can advise you both before the mediation session as well as attend on the day.
Prior to mediation, an experienced lawyer can be particularly valuable in advising you on everything from how the mediation process works and what to expect from it, to the strength and weaknesses of your case, the settlement options you should consider, and the chances of success of further legal action, including the likely costs and duration of taking the matter to court.
You can also have a lawyer present at a mediation appointment with your ex-partner, but should be vigilant that they attend in a ‘hands-off’ advisory capacity. In this setting, lawyers need to restrain their natural instinct to do the talking and negotiating on behalf of you, their client. The trained mediator is the person running the mediation.
Instead, a lawyer attending a mediation is there to offer general legal advice to you and, in certain situations, the other participants in the mediation and to offer a legal view of the possible settlement options canvassed. They will often ‘reality test’ proposals for settlement to see that they legally meet your requirements and also those needed for a court to enforce the decision. Your lawyer is not there to influence the way the mediation is conducted.
At Mediations Australia, we have the expertise and experience in both mediation and family law practice to be able to provide you with the best mediation experience possible. Our family law mediation experts know how to tailor their advice and guidance to clients to achieve a successful outcome from mediation, helping you avoid the stress and cost of subsequent court action.