What is family mediation?

14 March 2019 | All Children Property Separation & Divorce Working with your Lawyer

Going to court can be a stressful, lengthy and expensive process. Instead, you can attend family mediation.

Family mediation resolves 80% of cases. It allows you to come to an agreement regarding your property and care for children, without going to court.

Types of family mediation

Family mediation can be informal or formal:

  • Informal mediation can be a discussion between parents, a discussion with help from a family member or with the help of a mediator.
  • Formal family mediation is where you use the Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process with the help of an accredited FDR practitioner.

Informal family mediation

If you choose informal mediation, you will need a mediator. The mediator’s role is to allow everyone to talk about the situation fairly and help you come to an agreement. Mediators can help moderate the discussions and keep the parties on topic. They can also help you decide how to best record your agreement.

It is important to note that agreements made “in good faith” (that is, where nothing is in writing), are hard to enforce. For this reason it is a good idea to have the mediation agreement formalised in writing either by way of a Parenting Plan or a Consent Order.

If you come to an agreement, you should obtain legal advice before you sign any documents.

Family Dispute Resolution (FDR)

Generally, separating families must attend FDR before applying for parenting orders (some exceptions apply, find out more here). As parents you should make a genuine attempt to resolve any issues before commencing court proceedings.

If you cannot reach an agreement about care for children, the FDR process will help you resolve your matter with the help of an FDR practitioner. FDR practitioners are independent and are specially trained in family law. They are also trained in how to make everyone to feel safe and supported during the process.

If an agreement is reached through FDR, you can have it recorded by way of a Parenting Plan or Consent Order.  If you opt for a Parenting Plan it must be in writing, dated and signed by you and your former partner.

How long does family mediation take?

The time it takes to resolve your family mediation matter varies depending on your unique situation.

If you choose to mediate informally this could be organised relatively quickly. If  there are complex issues involved however, FDR can take some weeks to organise after the initial intake assessments are completed and the actual mediation can take many hours.

Benefits of family mediation

There are many benefits to family mediation including:

  • It usually costs less than going to court
  • Your matter is generally resolved faster than going to court
  • The waiting time to start the process is usually less than waiting for a court date
  • The process is less formal than the courts
  • Due to the nature of the process, the relationship between all parties may benefit
  • Parents can feel empowered by reaching their own arrangements for their children
  • Agreements can be legal binding and enforceable if you wish or as simple as a written agreement to be reviewed in 6 or 12 months time

How we can help

Getting advice upfront and very soon after a separation can save you time and money.

MDV Family Lawyers can arrange mediation for you. We can also assist you by reviewing and preparing your Parenting Plan or Consent Order, and we have dedicated meditation rooms available for all parents to use.

If you have been unable to reach an agreement through family mediation, we can also help you with the next steps.

Need advice?

Please contact our office today on 02 4421 7455, email [email protected] or book online now for a set fee initial appointment to further discuss how we can assist you.