If you’re starting the divorce process, you might be wondering if you should hire a family mediator or a family lawyer.
It’s a common dilemma amongst divorcing couples and can be a bone of contention as well, if one party wants to mediate and the other party would rather go through the Family Court system.
Here at Hickman Family Lawyers, we offer both services to separating couples in WA. You can choose to hire us as your family lawyer, but we can alternatively guide you through the family mediation process if you’d rather try to resolve your matters quickly and amicably.
Here are our insights on family meditators and family lawyers and when they would be right for your situation.
Should I Hire A Family Mediator Or A Family Lawyer?
What Is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is a voluntary process where a mediator assists separating couples to resolve their disputes and reach an amicable agreement, without the need to go to Court.
When there are children under the age of 18 years, Australian Family Law makes it mandatory for divorcing parents to first attempt family mediation before going to Court.
How Does Family Mediation Work?
Both parties agree to appoint a mediator, to whom they each give their side of the story, and provide with their own ‘wish list’. The mediator then assists with generating options to resolve their matter, enabling the parties to find solutions to their disputes and work towards reaching a settlement that they can both live with.
Family mediators focus only on seeking solutions, keeping emotions in check and are not interested on who did or said what. They do not pressurise anyone to agree on anything they may not feel comfortable doing, but offer workable suggestions for both parties to consider and come to their own amicable settlement terms.
What Issues Can Be Resolved At Family Mediation?
All issues relating to divorce and separation can be resolved at family mediation.
The main issues dealt with at family mediation are the division of property and finances, and children’s matters that relate to the future care and living arrangements of any children from the relationship, as well financial obligations that go along with the care of the children.
Do You Need A Family Lawyer For Family Mediation?
No, you do not need to hire a family lawyer to attend and be part of the family mediation process. However, if both parties agree, you may bring your own family lawyer to the mediation sessions for a second opinion and ask them to review any agreed settlement terms before formalising them with court orders or arrangements.
What’s The Difference Between A Family Lawyer And A Family Mediator?
Where a family lawyer represents one party and usually strives to achieve optimal settlement terms for their client, a family mediator remains impartial, offering guidance and legal information equally to both parties.
The focus of a family mediator is on empowering both parties to reach a mutual agreement that suits their own unique set of circumstances. At all times they strive to achieve a settlement that is fair and equitable for both parties, as required by the Family Court of Australia.
A family lawyer, on the other hand, can represent you at mediation or in Family Court, and help you present your case before a Judge for a final decision. They provide you legal advice about what you are likely to receive. This is not a process a family mediator can be involved with unless they are also a family lawyer.
How Can A Family Mediator Help You?
A family mediator can help you to reach your own mutual agreement with your ex. This may include resolving issues such as the splitting of assets, parental arrangements, child support, spousal maintenance, and whatever else that may be required for your specific needs.
How Can A Family Lawyer Help You?
A family lawyer is there to protect your interests and strives to achieve an outcome that is optimal for you and your children. They can offer legal advice throughout the process, whether you choose to go through the Family Court or resolve issues via mediation – or both.
Family lawyers can also help you, in cases where family mediation may not be appropriate, or when one party refuses to attend family mediation.
What Are The Benefits Of Choosing Mediation Over Going To Court?
There are numerous benefits of attending family mediation rather than going to Court. Mediation is usually the quickest, least costly and less stressful way of divorcing in Australia.
Unlike a court procedure, which may take months or even years to complete, and where a judge makes the final decision, in mediation, both parties get to control the process and reach their own mutual agreement. This paves the way for a happier stress-free relationship with your ex-partner long after the separation.
When Should You Choose To Go To Court Instead Of Opting For Family Mediation?
Australian Family Law acknowledges that sometimes there are times where family mediation may not be an appropriate way to divorce or separate. Such cases could include where there is a history or a threat of abuse or violence in a family, where one party refuses to mediate, or where one party does not disclose all relevant information truthfully.
If you’re still wondering whether you need to hire a family mediator or a family lawyer, get in touch with our family lawyers in Perth now.
We can help you work out whether your circumstances make family mediation the best option, or whether you may be better off taking your divorce to the Family Court.
We know it’s not an easy decision to make, but rest assured our friendly team of family lawyers and family mediators in Perth will be on hand to guide and support you along the way.
Book your free 15-min consultation here now.