Probably the most common question I hear when I first speak to a new client is “how long does family mediation take?”
While there is no guaranteed fixed time, what I can say for sure is that family mediation takes a lot less time than going through a drawn-out battle in Family Court.
So, if moving on quickly and amicably sounds good to you, then family mediation may be the best solution for your separation or divorce settlement.
But back to the question in point – how long does family mediation take – let’s breakdown how long it could take for you.
What Is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is a most effective way for separating couples to resolve their disputes and reach a settlement without the need to go through the Family Court.
It is a voluntary process where, under the guidance of a qualified family mediator, both parties are encouraged to seek solutions suited to their specific set of circumstances
All matters pertaining to the separation and disputes may be discussed at Family Mediation. These may include financial settlement and children’s/parenting matters.
Family mediation can be undertaken at any stage of your separation, even after you have already started Court proceedings. Family mediation is by far the most popular, least costly and least stressful way of divorcing or separating.
Do I Have To Attend Family Mediation?
There is no legal requirement to attend family mediation (or other forms of family dispute resolution), unless there are children involved. Then it becomes mandatory under the Family Law. The Court will not entertain an Application in children’s matters, unless alternative dispute resolution is first attempted (there are some limited exceptions to this rule).
There are cases where alternative dispute resolution may not be suitable and a Certificate will be issued allowing the case to proceed to Court. Such cases may be due to the couple being unable to resolve their disputes in mediation, or one partner refusing to participate in mediation, or there is a threat of abuse or violence in the family, making mediation inappropriate.
How Long Does Family Mediation Take?
Family mediation is the quickest way of separating, but exactly how long that may take varies with each case. The simple answer however is that it depends entirely on you and the complexities of your disputes. The more issues you can resolve between yourselves, the quicker it will take.
At Move On Mediation we usually get matters resolved in just one session.
Either way it is far quicker than going through the Family Courts, which can take several months and, more often, several years to finalise.
How Does Family Mediation Work?
Family mediation is a very simple process.
Unlike the Family Court process where each party hires and pays their own lawyers to argue on their behalf, in family mediation, the mediator offers general legal guidance to both parties, remaining neutral without taking sides, and thereby reducing the level of conflict.
By informing you of your legal rights and obligations, family mediators may make suggestions for both parties to consider, enabling you to find your own solutions to your disputes, leading to an overall settlement on which you can both agree.
Once all disputes have been resolved, the mediator will draw up a document called an agreement reached at mediation, which you can take to your lawyers for a second opinion, should you wish, before signing it and submitting it to the Court.
For the Court to grant any Order, any financial settlement needs to be fair and equitable and, if there are children involved, be in the best interest of the child,.
What Happens If We Don’t Reach An Agreement?
If you fail to reach an agreement, your matter will have to be resolved through the Court, where a Judge or Magistrate will make the final decision.
That however, may not always be what either you or your ex had hoped for.
But even if you don’t reach agreement, mediation would have still been worth the time and effort, as you can limit the issues to be dealt with by the Court, making that process quicker and less costly.