If you’re about to undertake family mediation, you might be looking for what to expect and how to prepare for your sessions. Here are 7 important questions to ask during family mediation that will help you get the most out of the time you have.

What Are The Issues We Need To Resolve Today?

During family mediation, unless fully prepared, there is the potential to become distracted from the main issues that need to be discussed and resolved on the day.

Having your list in priority order in front of you will help you to remain focused on the issues that need to be resolved on the day.

You may not be able to discuss or resolve all your issues in one session so, to make things easier, split your issues into separate categories and concentrate on resolving one issue at a time.

  1. Child and parenting matters – including child care and living arrangements
  2. Financial matters – including division of assets and any relevant support payments

If at any time you begin to feel overwhelmed or being side-tracked from the issue at hand, ask yourself and the mediator “what are the issues we need to resolve today?”

Keep notes of your thoughts, offers and suggestions made, or questions you need answered, so you don’t forget them. These notes will be most useful in helping you to reach a decision, or to your family lawyer, if you’re going to seek legal advice.

What Do You Think Is A Fair Resolution To This Issue?

If you feel your ex-spouse is making unreasonable demands, explain where you are coming from and ask them “do you think is a fair resolution to this issue?” Asking them to look at the situation from the outside might help them find a new perspective on their demands.

But don’t forget to ask yourself that question too. Perhaps your demands are not fair either.

Always speak calmly and clearly, explaining why your proposals are fair and important to you. Then listen carefully to othersto try and see their point of view as well. This will help you reach a fair resolution that is acceptable to you both.

How Might The Family Court Resolve This If We Cannot Agree?

If you’re feeling your views are not being fairly heard, or not satisfied with the way the proceedings are going, you may feel tempted to withdraw and take your case to the Court.

Instead of making a direct statement to your ex, which would potentially scupper achieving a successful mediation, consider asking the mediator “how might the Court resolve this if we cannot agree?” 

This may help you and your ex decide whether it is worth taking this issue to the Family Court for a decision by a judge, or if there is a way you can mediate now to resolve it yourselves.

The potential consequences of going through a lengthy and costly court procedure where a judge will make the final decision, could provide enough motivation for your ex to find an amicable resolution.

What Will We Do If Circumstances Change In Future?

While reaching an amicable settlement to suit the immediate needs of both parties may be a hard enough challenge, it may not suit the future needs of either party. People and circumstances constantly change. Children grow older, financial situations change and new relationships form all the time.

Before signing any document, consider how the current agreement will impact on your future needs.

Can We Take A Short Break?

Although divorcing through family mediation is by far the least stressful method, it can still be a highly emotional process at the best of times, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed during discussions.

There are no deadlines in mediation.

People can take as long as they need to make decisions. So, if you feel overwhelmed with emotions or upset at any stage, ask to take a break, either to regroup your thoughts, or to seek guidance. Try not to make a decision in anger or under pressure.

Can I Speak To The Mediator Privately?

If at any stage of the discussions you feel the need to communicate with the mediator alone, you are perfectly entitled to do so.

You also have the option of conducting the entire process in separate rooms to your ex-spouse.

We’ve Reached an Agreement at Family Mediation, How Do We Make This Legally Binding?

The family mediator will draw up an official document called an agreement reached at mediation, which can be used as the basis for a Parenting Plan or to file an application to the Family Court for a Consent Order. Once approved by the Family Court, the agreement becomes legally binding.

Want to know about what questions to ask during family mediation or how family mediation works?

Ian Shann is a family mediation specialist in Perth and has worked with hundreds of separating couples over the last decade.

Get in touch with Ian today for a confidential chat about your divorce and find out how family mediation might be your best option for a fast and amicable separation.