As a family mediation specialist in Perth, I get asked a lot of questions about the family law mediation process.
In this blog, I’ll share the 5 most common family law mediation questions I get and my answers to them.
Question 1 – How Do I Get My Ex To Agree To Mediate?
In an ideal world, convincing your ex to mediate should be the easiest part of your divorce. The reasons are fairly compelling. Compared to the alternative of going through the Family Courts, mediation is by far the quicker, cheaper and less stressful option for the whole family. And most importantly, the system works!
That’s why less than 5% of divorces in Australia end up in the Courts. And if there are children under 18 years involved, then your ex has absolutely no choice but to attempt family mediation as the first solution, because it is required by law.
Talking to your ex about the pros of family mediation can help them to see it is the better way to divorce.
Question 2 – What Happens At A Family Mediation Session?
Prior to a family mediation session, each spouse will attend an intake session separately with the mediator, in which the process is explained and the mediator gets a clear understanding of the situation. This enables them to offer sound guidance, to both spouses to negotiate towards reaching an amicable settlement that they can both agree upon.
At the mediation session both parties give their opening statements and raise any concerns they may have. The family law mediator will explain their legal rights and offer suggestions to both parties assisting them to negotiate each point, one by one, until they are all agreed upon by both parties. At no point will the mediator ever take sides or pressurise anyone to accept any term they are not comfortable with. Both parties can take as long as they want, before making a decision and may seek their own legal opinion if they so wish.
If there is a history of intimidation or even violence in the relationship, either party may choose to conduct the mediation in separate rooms and even have a relative or close friend for moral support or even their own lawyer. Both parties do however need to agree to that. Alternatively, you can opt to not mediate if you are not comfortable with dealing with your ex in this way.
Once all issues are resolved, the mediator will draw up the divorce settlement and submit it to the Court for approval. If certain issues remain unresolved, they will have to be settled in Court. Even so, the costs spent on mediation would have still been worth it, as only the few disputed issues will be decided by the Court and not the matters which you have already settled.
Question 3 – How Long Will The Whole Mediation Process Take?
There is no simple answer to that, except that it all depends on you, the flexibility of each party, and the number of disputed issues. The more issues you can both agree on, the quicker it will take. Divorcing couples are strongly urged to attempt to resolve as many matters as possible, even before attending family law mediation.
Most divorces are done and dusted after just one session. Most mediations take no longer than 3-4 hours and then another 24 hours before I write up the documents. That is still far quicker than going the litigation route, which can drag on for months or even years, adding to stress levels for the whole family.
Question 4 – How Much Will Family Mediation Cost?
Unlike litigation where lawyers charge an hourly rate and can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars for each spouse, family mediators most often charge a flat fee and both spouses know what they’re in for from the very beginning.
See our full schedule of family mediation fees here.
Question 5 – Do I Need A Family Lawyer As Well?
The quick answer is no! But mediation allows either spouse to be accompanied by their own family lawyer throughout the process, if they so wish, for an extra layer of protection. They are also free to seek legal advice at any time and may also take the draft agreement to their lawyer, for a final check over, before signing it.
Hopefully this post with the most common family law mediation questions I get has helped you get some answers on family law mediation and how it works.