Why three (3) simple questions about mediation can be answered with three (3) simple words.
Have you ever wondered why mediation is suggested by your lawyer or the Court?
Have you ever wondered why mediating your family law dispute is worth considering?
Have you ever wondered whether participating in a family law mediation is a good idea for your children?
Let’s be honest, most people like to have control over just about everything in their life. Of course, that doesn’t always happen, but where it can or where you have the choice, most people will take it. From starting a new relationship to moving in, to changing your social media status to ‘in a relationship’, to getting married or to starting a family (fur babies or human babies).
What may not be in your control, is the end of your de facto relationship or marriage, and for children they have absolutely no control over their parent’s separation. The end of relationships and having one family unit and home, are losses adults and children will endure.
As adults, we know all to well the feelings associated with loss and the grief that it brings. Children are perhaps none-the-wiser, one would hope. But when there is a relationship or marriage breakdown, the whole family will experience some form of trauma and it is at that stage that we want to take steps to regain some form of control.
Think about the decisions that need to be made when a family is divided:
- Where will I live?
- How will I pay the bills?
- Will I get spouse maintenance?
- When do the children see me?
- What about the dog or cat?
- Who keeps the house or business?
- Do I pay child support?
How does mediation help with the decisions that need to be made? How does mediation help with a family law dispute?
A mediation is a dispute resolution meeting that is facilitated by a suitably qualified mediator who has no interest in the outcome. A mediation is about you and the other party. It is ‘your’ mediation where the topics for discussion are set by you. Agreements that are reached are controlled by you and the other party. The timing of your property division and the implementation of the parenting arrangements are in your control.
You own the outcome!
Like control, most people like to have an element of certainty about their life. Where there is no control there is no certainty. A de facto relationship or marriage breakdown is again, a good example of uncertainty. For children, when their parents separate, the uncertainty for them is likely more significant. What would they be thinking:
- Will I live in one home or two?
- Will I need to change schools?
- Will I have to leave my friends behind?
- Will I get to see my Mum/Dad?
- Why can’t they ‘get back together’?
- Was it my fault?
- Will I always be sad or angry or torn?
How will a mediation give us certainty? How does mediation help with the uncertainty about the parenting arrangements?
Simply put, an agreement reached at mediation gives you certainty of an outcome. You have control over the agreement reached which gives you certainty about yours and your children’s future.
A parenting agreement can give a child answers to some of their concerns (as listed above), can bring them peace and allows them certainty about their future with those who love them. If a child knows their parents have agreed about what is best for them, it might be argued that they will be okay in circumstances where their world is uncertain.
Where you ask the Court to make a decision about your property settlement and/or the care arrangements for your children, you have little control and no certainty about the outcome.
Legal fees in family law matters are notoriously difficult to estimate. There is some truth to the saying, ‘how long is a piece of string’. Contrary to public perception, most family lawyers will do their best to keep their client informed about anticipated legal fees as the matter proceeds. However, once Court proceedings are a foot, legal fees can spiral, with numerous Court events (not to mention the delays that exist in having the matter determined).
What does mediation have to do with legal costs?
A mediation is required in a parenting matter before Court proceedings can be commenced. This is also known as Family Dispute Resolution. There are some exceptions to this rule, which we can talk to you about.
In a property settlement matter, a mediation is highly likely to be ordered by the Judge at the first Court date. Why not avoid the expense of preparing Court documents and appearing at Court, and sensibly arrange a mediation before commencing your property settlement proceedings?
As I have mentioned, an agreement reached at mediation gives you ‘control’ over the outcome of your family law dispute, which gives you ‘certainty’ about yours and your children’s future, and it limits or minuses your legal costs.
A mediated outcome will invariably minimise the emotional and psychology cost that your separation may have already had on you and your children. Some may say, this is worth its weight in gold!