Family mediation is an alternative to court proceedings. It can be more time and cost effective.
It is a meeting with a trained mediator to discuss the details of your case. You will need to attend a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) unless you are exempt from it.
Similar to family therapists, mediators facilitate conversations that may include non-legal matters in the dispute. Possible solutions are then negotiated.
The benefits of family mediation can be substantial. It is generally quicker, less stressful and cheaper than litigation, and it can improve communication between parents. It also allows the parties to create their own solutions rather than having a judge impose an order that may or may not fit their situation.
Litigation can be expensive as lawyer fees, private investigators, expert witness costs and court and filing fees add up quickly. In addition, a trial often takes several months or even years to work its way through the system. A court case can leave both parties feeling drained and angry. In mediation, both parties are able to communicate openly and effectively with the mediator. This can reduce the bitterness and tension that many couples experience in divorce proceedings.
Rather than having a judge make decisions for you, you can resolve family issues in mediation and work out arrangements that suit your unique situation. It is important that you enter the mediation process with a flexible mindset.
The mediator will help you and your former partner identify issues, and through facilitated discussions, explore options and alternatives for solving them. It may take more than one session to solve a particular issue.
It is a good idea to prepare before the first joint meeting by gathering current financial information such as your net income, assets in joint names and sole name and debts. It is also helpful to have an idea of how you want to settle the issues in mind. You can discuss this with your lawyer before the mediation sessions.
Meeting with the Child’s Custody Lawyer
Family mediation is a process in which you and your ex-partner meet with a neutral person to help resolve disputes. This can be a lawyer or someone trained in alternative dispute resolution. It’s less expensive and less stressful than fighting through court proceedings.
The mediator helps you identify issues, through facilitated discussion, explore options and alternatives to solve them. If you reach a settlement, the mediator will prepare an agreement for signature. The resulting document can be submitted directly to the Court as a Court Order.
Your family mediator can be found through government-funded services such as Family Relationship Advice Line, Family Dispute Resolution service or regional family Dispute Resolution service or private practitioners registered on the Family Dispute Resolution Register. You can also contact your nearest family law practitioner by phone or email.
Meeting with the Child’s Parenting Lawyer
The child’s lawyer may have a different opinion than you do. It is important to communicate with them and ask for their advice.
Having the right mindset is vital to a successful mediation session. You should enter the process with the idea that it isn’t about you or your spouse, but rather what will best benefit your children. This will help you stay focused on the goals of mediation and keep the conversations on track to a resolution that both parents can agree upon.
A judge might decide to interview your child in his or her chambers (office). If this occurs, the attorney for the child will accompany them. This meeting is confidential and is not available to the other attorneys or parents. It is generally friendly and is designed to get the child to open up.
Meeting with the Child’s Lawyer
Family mediation can be far less stressful and much cheaper than going to Court. It also allows you and the other party to have a sense of control over the outcome rather than having a Judge make an Order for you that may not be what either of you want.
The mediator will help you identify issues, discuss your options and work out a solution that is acceptable to both parties. You may need to have individual meetings with the mediator before joint meetings and you will also attend an orientation meeting (sometimes called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or MIAM). Some courts offer these online and others do them in person. The orientation will help you understand how family mediation works. If you are unable to reach an agreement you can go back to mediation another time.