At Hickman Family Lawyers, we believe that family mediation is one of the best options available to separating or divorcing couples.
Our family lawyers in Perth have helped dozens of couples through one of the most stressful life events and family mediation certainly helps to ease some of the strain that can come with divorce.
We’ve put together 5 things you need to know about family mediation to help you see the benefits of this process.
Unlike a court case, where details can become public knowledge, often complicating the situation further, family mediation remains a strictly private and confidential affair. Mediators are bound by strict confidentiality rules and will not disclose information with anyone else.
Whatever is said during family mediation cannot even be used as evidence in any Court. It is that confidential! This alone, should encourage both parties to be completely honest, to divulge personal and sensitive information, and to make offers to each other without the fear of it leaking out, thus paving the way towards reaching an amicable settlement much sooner.
It’s Usually Quick
Although there is no hard and fast rule, you can be rest assured that family mediation is a far, far quicker process than going through the Courts for a divorce settlement.
All separations come with their own unique challenges, but mediators concentrate only on finding solutions, equally assisting both spouses to find common ground and reach agreement.
How long the process takes, will depend almost entirely upon you, and on the number of issues under dispute. In a nutshell, the entire process may take from a few hours to a few days. Compared to the Family Court (which can take a couple of years in some cases), mediation is a much better option.
Once again, when compared to the other alternative of going through the Courts, mediation is a considerably less costly process. Some mediators charge by the hour while some charge a flat fee, and this could be discussed and arranged to suit your pockets, prior to commencing with the mediation. Some mediators offer a free first consultation, which can also be done telephonically.
If there are any issues of dispute that cannot be resolved, they will have to be decided by a Magistrate or Judge and unfortunately, costs will then certainly escalate. This too, can provide enough motivation for both spouses to avoid the Courts by remaining reasonable and realistic in their demands, making the entire process less costly and less stressful for everyone too.
Mediators’ primary objectives are to seek a mutually agreed settlement and to avoid the Courts as far as possible, thus keeping your costs down to a bare minimum.
Under Australian law, it is compulsory for separating parents to attempt Family Dispute Resolution (a specialised type of mediation) before applying to a Family Court for a Parenting Order, unless there is urgency in your matter. The reason for that is simple – it works!
In many separations, the future care of children are the most emotional, stressful and hotly contested issues in the entire process. Mediators have the expertise to deal with all children’s matters, and will spell out your rights and obligations regarding custody, child support system, etc. in order to achieve an outcome that is both fair and in the best interests of the children.
You’re In Control
Throughout the process of family mediation, you are in total control – and that applies to both parties. Even if there has been a history of violence and you feel intimidated by your spouse, you have the choice of being in separate rooms throughout the process and even have close friend or relative present for support. You dictate the terms with which you feel comfortable.
As mediators remain totally neutral, they will never force you to agree to anything with which you may not be comfortable. They will not make decisions for you, but will instead, empower you both with valuable information, guiding you to make your own decisions and reach an amicable agreement.
If at any stage, you feel pressurised to accept a term with which you may not be comfortable, you are free to take your time to think it over, seek further advice from your own lawyer, or even withdraw from the process. There are also no time-frames, so you can take your own time to think each point through.
As long as both spouses are genuinely keen to end the relationship as painlessly as possible, their only obligation will be to remain open and rational in their requests. Family mediation will help you to ensure that the final settlement terms are fair, practical and in the best interests of the entire family.
To talk to us about how family mediation can help you through your separation and divorce, book a free, no-obligation phone consultation with our family lawyers in Perth now.