When it comes to myths about family mediation, our team of family lawyers in Perth has really heard it all.
Family mediation can be one of the most effective and affordable ways to finalise your divorce settlement, so we’re going to bust 9 myths about family mediation today, and help get you on your way to an amicable divorce with your ex.
Myth #1 – Mediators Will Be On Your Side
Perhaps the biggest of all family mediation myths. No mediator is ever “on your side” and no mediator is ever against you.
Unlike a court case where both sides may end up fighting to win at all costs, often blaming the other party for the breakdown of the relationship, mediators remain calm and neutral at all times.
They don’t look to find fault, focusing only in equally assisting both parties to reach an amicable and fair settlement that the whole family can live with.
Myth #2 – You Have To Be In The Same Room With Your Ex To Mediate
Absolutely not! The entire mediation process can take place with partners in separate rooms or via telephone or video link.
This is often the case where one partner may feel intimidated or be fearful of their spouse, especially if there has been a history of abuse or violence. You tell the mediator what you want.
Myth #3 – Mediation Takes Too Long
No! In fact the exact opposite is true.
Mediation is by far the quickest way to divorce. It is a voluntary process mutually agreed upon by couples who wish to dissolve the relationship and genuinely resolve their differences as painlessly and as quickly as possible.
When both partners disclose all information truthfully and are prepared to negotiate fairly, the entire mediation process can be finalised in a few weeks or even less.
It’s all up to you.
Myth #4 – Mediators Will Favour The Same Sex
Mediators should never favour the same sex. We’re living in the 21st century where discrimination of any sort is not tolerated, especially in legal and professional matters such as mediation. That argument simply does not exist.
Myth #5 – Mediation Is Only To Help You Reconcile
Mediators are not marriage counsellors. They focus only on assisting couples reaching their own decisions in resolving their disputes.
If a couple seem unsure and indicate that they may be keen to reconcile, the mediator can certainly assist by referring them to other specialised professionals. But they will not attempt to help you get back together.
Myth #6 – A Mediator Is A Substitute For A Family Lawyer
This is also one of the most misconstrued myths about family mediation. As mediators don’t represent either party, they cannot offer legal advice. In other words, they cannot tell you what to do or accept.
They do however set out the principles of law to both parties, so they each know exactly what the rules are, thus enabling them to make their own decisions towards reaching an agreement that is fair and will be accepted by the Courts.
For an extra layer of protection, each party can bring in their own divorce lawyer for a second opinion at any stage during the mediation process.
Myth #7 – You Only Have To Mediate If It is Court Ordered
Australian Family Law makes it compulsory for a couple to first attempt mediation before approaching the Court, if there are children under 18 years of age involved (except in circumstances of urgency).
If that is not the case, then either party is free to file through the Court if they want to. They are however encouraged to mediate and as a result, an overwhelming majority of divorces in Australia are settled through mediation, and it is not always court-ordered.
Myth #8 – Decisions Made At Mediation Are Legally Binding
No decision or agreement reached at mediation is legally binding, until it is approved by the Court.
Once an agreement is reached, the mediator will draw up the agreement reached at mediation, which can then either be submitted to Court for approval, or each partner take to their own lawyer for a second opinion before signing and submitting it to the Court.
Myth #9 – The Mediator Will Make Decisions For You
Mediators will put your mind at ease and dispel this and all the other myths and misconceptions about family mediation at the very start of the process. Mediators never make decisions for either party.
Their role is not to offer legal advice, but only legal information. By knowing and fully understanding what their rights are, both parties are empowered to negotiate in an amicable manner and make informed decisions on the future of their families.