What does a family mediator do? For starters, family mediators can help you separate or divorce amicably, instead of becoming embroiled in an adversarial battle over every last possession or about who gets to see the kids and when.
In this post I’m going to answer your questions about what family mediators do, how they can help you and what happens before, during and after your family mediation.
What does a family mediator do?
A family mediator assists couples who wish to divorce or separate, to resolve their disputes amicably and outside of the Court, enabling them to find solutions among themselves and reach a settlement specifically made to suit their situation.
A family mediator has the knowledge and expertise to deal with all divorce matters, whether they relate to children’s matters or financial and property matters.
How does family mediation work?
Unlike a court procedure, where it all happens in an open court room, family mediation is a voluntary procedure and takes place in a less formal setting where everything discussed remains confidential.
Family mediators explain the rights and obligations to both parties, encouraging them to seek their own solutions to their disputes while offering suggestions for them to consider. They are not interested in the causes of the breakdown, keeping emotions at bay and focusing only on ways of resolving the disputes.
What happens before family mediation?
Before family mediation can take place, both parties must agree to mediate and disclose all information accurately and honestly. Individual pre-mediation sessions take place, in which points of dispute are discussed and how each party proposes to resolve them.
In financial matters each party is informed of what documents to provide, including a list of all their earnings, assets and liabilities. For children’s matters, both parties will be asked what arrangements they have agreed on or propose. By each party providing their own “wish list”, it will enable the mediator to understand the issues at hand and to come up with possible solutions.
What happens during family mediation?
During family mediation, all points of dispute are discussed one step at a time until are all agreed upon and a settlement agreement can be drawn up for signing. Each party will be given time to put forward their proposals to resolve each issue, but must also be prepared to listen and consider the views of the other side for an amicable resolution to be achieved.
Both parties are encouraged to compromise and negotiate towards reaching a settlement based on what is best for their family’s circumstances. Nobody is pressurised into agreeing on any matter with which they may not feel comfortable.
If either party feels that they may be intimidated by their ex-partner during mediation, they can request the sessions be held by video conference or in separate rooms and even have a friend or relative present for moral support.
What happens after family mediation?
If all disputes are settled, the family mediator will draw up a draft of the settlement, which either party can sign, or take to their own independent lawyers for a second opinion, before signing. Once the agreement is signed, the mediator can assist both parties to submit it to the Court for a consent order if required. Upon approval, the agreement becomes legal and enforceable.
If some disputes remain unresolved, they will have to be taken to the Family Court, where a Judge will make the final ruling. Only the unresolved issues will be addressed by the Court.
Can a family mediator give legal advice?
Family mediators do not recommend any form of legal action to any party but, if appropriately qualified, offer guidance and suggestions, enabling both parties to make their own decisions and reach their own agreement.
Does a family mediator take sides?
Family mediators are bound by a strict code of conduct and derive no benefits from any outcome achieved at mediation. Unlike hiring a family lawyer to fight for one party’s rights, family mediators remain neutral at all times, offering legal guidance to both parties and helping them to find an acceptable resolution of their differences.
Do I still need a lawyer if I use a family mediator?
The quick answer would be no, but you’re entitled to obtain independent legal advice before, during or after mediation. You are also entitled have your own lawyer present at the mediation session, but that must be agreed upon beforehand with your ex.
Once you have reached an agreement at mediation, you may also take the draft agreement to your lawyer for review before signing it.
Why should I use a family mediator instead of going to Court?
If there are children under the age of 18 years involved, you do not have a choice, as the Family Law requires you to first attempt mediation before heading to the Courts (with some exceptions like domestic violence or impracticality of mediation). It is referred to by the Family Courts as family dispute resolution. You can read more about how the family mediation process works with us at Move On.
Using a family mediator will save you time, money and stress as mediation is by far the quickest, most effective, least costly and least stressful way of divorcing or separating.
Get in touch with me today to start your family mediation process now.