What is Child Custody Mediation
Many people have questions about the mediation process. It is a compulsory step when there are parenting matters in dispute, hence the question, what is child custody mediation?
Separation and divorce are difficult for everyone involved: you, your ex-partner, your children, and your extended family. When emotions are high and the future is uncertain, there can be a lot of disagreement in the decision-making process, which can lead to one or both partners being unwilling to compromise or reach a conclusion that is in the best interests of the children. In this context, mediation is by far the best means of resolving parenting issues, because it can happen quickly, is inexpensive and allows you and your children to get off the emotional merry-go-round and get on with your life.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) in Australia recommends that couples avoid using the courts wherever feasible and instead engage in mediation before going to court. Even if a parenting order is sought through the courts, the applicant will almost certainly be required to show that they have attempted to address their disagreements through mediation before turning to the courts for help. This is particularly the case for child custody mediation.
That said, the Family Law Courts no longer use the term “custody,” instead preferring terminology that refers to how much time a child spends with each parent and how much communication they will have. Both parents are urged to play an active role in their children’s life if it is safe for them to do so. However, reaching an agreement on subjects like health, living arrangements, income, and education can be challenging.
Involved in a Parenting Dispute?
What is Mediation?
A mediator is used when parents are unable to reach an agreement. Your family lawyer can arrange for an expert Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to enable neutral, calm discussions between the parties or you can simply choose Medications Australia where we have family lawyers and mediators who work collaboratively together to give you the best outcomes. The purpose of mediation is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement that can be transformed into a Parenting Plan or, if necessary, a formal Consent Order sanctioned by the Courts.
The role of a mediator is not to pass judgment or take sides. They have been hired to essentially chair a meeting between both parties in order to enable proactive dialogue in a safe, controlled setting that will allow a resolution that is in their children’s best interests to be reached.
What steps should I take to find a mediator?
Mediation comes in a variety of forms. The usage of Family Relationship Centres, Family Relationships Australia, or other public and community-based services can be cost-effective. However with these organisations there can often be significant delays getting a mediation and if your parenting matter is relatively complex, they may not have the skills to effectively mediate the issues. The other issue can be that once an agreement has been made between you and your former partner, it’s recommended that you make it legally binding. To do this, you will need to ensure that the mediator constructs the agreement that in turn, a family lawyer can draft into a legally enforceable document. We call these consent orders
The alternative to mediation is of course litigation. It’s emotionally draining, expensive and on average will take up to 3 years to resolve.
When is mediation not an option?
Mediation isn’t always the best option, especially when family violence is involved. In such circumstances, having the assistance of a lawyer can help you deal successfully with difficult matters and defend your rights. If there are allegations of abuse, your lawyer can help you decide if the issue should be resolved in court rather than through mediation.
Should I consult a family lawyer before doing child custody mediation?
The most effective mediation occurs when both parties have first gotten legal guidance regarding their specific situation. You’ll be much better prepared if you know what to expect, what your alternatives are, and how a court might handle your case. By finding this out ahead of time and understanding your legal stance, both parties will be more educated and will have evaluated what they are and aren’t ready to compromise on prior to discussions.
Your lawyer can attend mediation sessions and provide you with advice as the process unfolds. When sensitive and essential matters are discussed, mediation can become emotional or tense, and having your lawyer present guarantees that you have a say and that your interests and those of your children are prioritised throughout.
At Mediations Australia, we’re well-positioned to help because we have both family lawyers and mediators who work together.
Involved in a Parenting Dispute?
How to Go About Mediation
Effective mediation requires planning. You can approach mediation with a more open mind, ready to listen and negotiate a mutually satisfactory arrangement, with the help of your lawyer or directly through a mediator. Remember to think about your children and their best interests, as well as the effects of conflict on them. Importantly, you should use mediation to resolve parenting difficulties rather than bringing up other marital issues.
Mediation isn’t always easy, but if you remember that you’re there to find a solution for your children and follow your lawyer’s and mediator’s recommendations, you’ll be far more likely to achieve an agreement that works for both of you.
What issues can be resolved through mediation?
Living arrangements or relocation, child support, health issues, education and religion, how time will be split between parents and how school holidays will be spent, overseas travel, and the division of payments for things like after-school activities are some of the most common topics that are discussed and resolved in child custody mediation.
What is the mediation procedure?
When a mediator is chosen, each parent is usually invited to a separate pre-mediation meeting to determine whether the case is appropriate for mediation. If you have hired a lawyer, they will tell you if this is the case and what choices are available to you.
Both parties can then be requested to compose a brief statement to bring to the first meeting, describing their goals for mediation.
Each mediation session can last anything from three hours to a full day. Some of the more serious difficulties may require multiple sessions to overcome. If all parties arrive prepared and eager to compromise, this is certainly hastened.
If no agreement can be reached during mediation, the mediator will issue a certificate. After then, either parent can bring a parenting case to court. If one parent fails to make a sincere effort to address the conflict if a parent fails to appear, or for any other reason, a certificate will be granted.
How Mediations Australia Can Help
At Mediations Australia, irrespective of where you are in Australia, We have a team of family lawyers and mediators who can assist you in Canberra, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and all other locations in Australia. WE offer a free, no-obligation consultation with a family lawyer or mediator. Get legal advice from us today!