Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution, is a process where an independent person (the Mediator or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) assists the parties to resolve their Family Law issues.
The process means the parties can ensure any agreement reached meets their individual family needs and matters can be finalised more quickly than going to court. This can be a very informal process despite the fact that both parties would usually have legal representation. It can also be a more cost effective manner to resolve disputes than litigating the matter through the Courts.
Mediations can occur, face to face, over the telephone, or by “shuttle mediation” (if one party has safety concerns or doesn’t feel comfortable being in the same room as the other). If an agreement is reached it can be documented and finalised, resulting in a swift determination of the matter. Even if the mediation is unsuccessful in finalising your matter, often it can narrow the issues in dispute which can again reduce costs and the time involved in achieving a resolution with your former partner.
When negotiating parenting arrangements for children it is compulsory that parents attend Family Dispute Resolution prior to applying to the Court unless special circumstances apply such as urgency, child abuse or domestic violence. If you are unable to reach agreement a section 60I certificate will be issued (indicating the parties attempted mediation) and the parties will then be able to file an initiating Application in the Family / Federal Circuit Court.